Area-level deprivation and overall and cause-specific mortality: 12 years' observation on British women and systematic review of prospective studies

PLoS One. 2013 Sep 24;8(9):e72656. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072656. eCollection 2013.


Background: Prospective studies have suggested a negative impact of area deprivation on overall mortality, but its effect on cause-specific mortality and the mechanisms that account for this association remain unclear. We investigate the association of area deprivation, using Index of Multiple deprivation (IMD), with overall and cause-specific mortality, contextualising findings within a systematic review.

Methods and findings: We used data from 4,286 women from the British Women's Heart Health Study (BWHHS) recruited at 1999-2001 to examine the association of IMD with overall and cause-specific mortality using Cox regression models. One standard deviation (SD) increase in the IMD score had a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.21 (95% CI: 1.13-1.30) for overall mortality after adjustment for age and lifecourse individual deprivation, which was attenuated to 1.15 (95% CI: 1.04-1.26) after further inclusion of mediators (health behaviours, biological factors and use of statins and blood pressure-lowering medications). A more pronounced association was observed for respiratory disease and vascular deaths. The meta-analysis, based on 20 published studies plus the BWHHS (n=21), yielded a summary relative risk (RR) of 1.15 (95% CI: 1.11-1.19) for area deprivation (top [least deprived; reference] vs. bottom tertile) with overall mortality in an age and sex adjusted model, which reduced to 1.06 (95% CI: 1.04-1.08) in a fully adjusted model.

Conclusions: Health behaviours mediate the association between area deprivation and cause-specific mortality. Efforts to modify health behaviours may be more successful if they are combined with measures that tackle area deprivation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cause of Death*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mortality*
  • Prospective Studies
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Women's Health*