Objectives: This study examined socioeconomic differentials in risk of death from a number of causes in a large cohort of Black men in the United States.
Methods: For 20 224 Black men screened for the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial between 1973 and 1975, data were collected on median family income of Black households in zip code of residence, age, cigarette smoking, blood pressure, serum cholesterol, previous heart attack, and drug treatment for diabetes. The 2937 deaths that occurred over the 16-year follow-up period were grouped into specific causes and related to median Black family income.
Results: There was an inverse association between age-adjusted all-cause mortality and median family income. There was no attenuation of this association over the follow-up period, and the association was similar for the 22 clinical centers carrying out the screening. The gradient was seen for most of the specific causes of death, although the strength of the association varied. Median income was markedly lower for the Black men screened than for the White men, but the relationship between income and all-cause mortality was similar.
Conclusions: Socioeconomic position is an important determinant of mortality risk for Black men. Even though Blacks lived in areas with substantially lower median family income than Whites, the association of income with mortality was similar for Blacks and Whites.