Inequalities in health in the city of Bristol: a preliminary review of statistical evidence

Int J Health Serv. 1985;15(4):637-63. doi: 10.2190/AN09-8R52-UE6B-VWUU.


This article compares statistical indicators of health with those of material and social deprivation for 28 wards of the city of Bristol, England. Four general indicators of health were examined-a combined rate per 1,000 live births of stillbirths and infant deaths; deaths of persons aged 15 to 64 per 1,000 of that age; deaths of persons aged 65 and over per 10,000 of that age, and numbers of babies born after 40 weeks gestation weighing less than 2,800 (and 2,500) grams per 1,000 births having that period of gestation. Measures of average and cumulative rank were used to augment tests of the significance of correlations between different indicators. The degree of rank consistency was high, and several wards at the top and the bottom of the rankings were clearly distinct on all indicators. Five indicators of deprivation were also examined-the percentages of: 1) households with fewer rooms than persons; 2) households lacking a car; 3) economically active persons seeking work; 4) children aged 5 to 15 who receive school meals free; and 5) households experiencing disconnection of electricity in the previous 12 months. Again the consistency of ranking according to the five indicators was high, with marked differences on all five indicators between the highest and lowest ranking wards. Between 1971 and 1981 some forms of deprivation increased in nearly all wards. According to some criteria, deprivation increased more in wards already most deprived in 1971 than in those least deprived. Finally, a strong association between the two sets of indicators was found. On the data available to health and planning authorities poor health is significantly correlated with deprivation. There are therefore implications for new forms of joint policy-making on the part of different departments of local and central government.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Birth Weight
  • England
  • Female
  • Fetal Death / epidemiology
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Health Surveys*
  • Health*
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality
  • Poverty*
  • Pregnancy
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Health*