Objectives: This study was undertaken to examine how the interaction between occupational class transitions and race affects the incidence of hypertension.
Methods: A cohort of 1982 men (183 Black), ages 25 to 55, received a baseline medical exam between 1971 and 1975 and a follow-up between 1982 and 1984. Logistic regressions were estimated for hypertension at follow-up controlling for hypertension at baseline, other risk factors associated with blood pressure, and interaction terms identifying specific occupational class transitions among Blacks and Whites. The occupational class matrix was based largely on scores of US Census Bureau occupations from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.
Results: Relative to Whites who remained in professional and technical jobs between baseline and follow-up, Blacks and Whites who remained in lower occupational classes or made specific transitions--notably into the lowest class--had significantly higher incidence rates of hypertension. These differences were greater among Blacks, who are also more concentrated in and less likely to move upward from the lower end of the occupational class matrix.
Conclusions: Widening racial disparities in high blood pressure over the period of study may be partly attributable to characteristics associated with occupational class position and dynamics.