Stronger association of perceived health with socio-economic inequality during COVID-19 pandemic than pre-pandemic era

Je Yeon Yun, Jin Ah Sim, Sujee Lee, Young Ho Yun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The COVID-19 pandemic has changed peoples’ routine of daily living and posed major risks to global health and economy. Few studies have examined differential impacts of economic factors on health during pandemic compared to pre-pandemic. We aimed to compare the strength of associations between perceived health and socioeconomic position (household income, educational attainment, and employment) estimated before and during the pandemic. Methods: Two waves of nationwide survey [on 2018(T1;n = 1200) and 2021(T2;n = 1000)] were done for 2200 community adults. A balanced distribution of confounders (demographics and socioeconomic position) were achieved across the T2 and T1 by use of the inverse probability of treatment weighting. Distributions of perceived health [= (excellent or very good)/(bad, fair, or good)] for physical-mental-social-spiritual subdomains were compared between T1 and T2. Odds of bad/fair/good health for demographics and socioeconomic position were obtained by univariate logistic regression. Adjusted odds (aOR) of bad/fair/good health in lower household income(< 3000 U.S. dollars/month) were retrieved using the multiple hierarchical logistic regression models of T1 and T2. Results: Perceived health of excellent/very good at T2 was higher than T1 for physical(T1 = 36.05%, T2 = 39.13%; P = 0.04), but were lower for mental(T1 = 38.71%, T2 = 35.17%; P = 0.01) and social(T1 = 42.48%, T2 = 35.17%; P < 0.001) subdomains. Odds of bad/fair/good health were significantly increased at T2 than T1 for household income (physical-mental-social; all Ps < 0.001) and educational attainment (social; P = 0.04) but not for employment (all Ps > 0.05). AORs of bad/fair/good health in lower household income were stronger in T2 than T1, for mental [aOR (95% CI) = 2.15(1.68–2.77) in T2, 1.33(1.06–1.68) in T1; aOR difference = 0.82(P < 0.001)], physical [aOR (95% CI) = 2.64(2.05–3.41) in T2, 1.50(1.18–1.90) in T1; aOR difference = 1.14(P < 0.001)] and social [aOR (95% CI) = 2.15(1.68–2.77) in T2, 1.33(1.06–1.68) in T1; aOR difference = 0.35(P = 0.049)] subdomains. Conclusions: Risks of perceived health worsening for mental and social subdomains in people with lower monthly household income or lower educational attainment became stronger during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to pre-pandemic era. In consideration of the prolonged pandemic as of mid-2022, policies aiming not only to sustain the monthly household income and compulsory education but also to actively enhance the perceived mental-social health status have to be executed and maintained.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1757
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19, perceived health, socioeconomic position
  • Logistic regression model
  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • Social health

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