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Does an elite education benefit health? Findings from the 1970 British Cohort Study

Bann, D; Hamer, M; Parsons, S; Ploubidis, GB; Sullivan, A; (2017) Does an elite education benefit health? Findings from the 1970 British Cohort Study. International Journal of Epidemiology , 46 (1) pp. 293-302. 10.1093/ije/dyw045. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Attending private school or a higher-status university is thought to benefit future earnings and occupational opportunities. We examined whether these measures were beneficially related to health and selected health-related behaviours in midlife. METHODS: Data were from up to 9799 participants from the 1970 British birth Cohort Study. The high school attended (private, grammar or state) was ascertained at 16 years, and the university attended reported at 42 years [categorised as either higher (Russell Group) or normal-status institutions]. Self-reported health, limiting illness and body mass index (BMI) were reported at 42 years, along with television viewing, take-away meal consumption, physical inactivity, smoking and high risk alcohol drinking. Associations were examined using multiple regression models, adjusted for gender and childhood socioeconomic, health and cognitive measures. RESULTS: Private school and higher status university attendance were associated with favourable self-rated health and lower BMI, and beneficially associated with health-related-behaviours. For example, private school attendance was associated with 0.56 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.48, 0.65] odds of lower self-rated health [odds ratio (OR) for higher-status university: 0.32 (0.27, 0.37)]. Associations were largely attenuated by adjustment for potential confounders, except for those of private schooling and higher-status university attendance with lower BMI and television viewing, and less frequent take-away meal consumption. CONCLUSIONS: Private school and higher-status university attendance were related to better self-rated health, lower BMI and multiple favourable health behaviours in midlife. Findings suggest that type or status of education may be an important under-researched construct to consider when documenting and understanding socioeconomic inequalities in health.

Type: Article
Title: Does an elite education benefit health? Findings from the 1970 British Cohort Study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyw045
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyw045
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Socioeconomic factors, cohort studies, education, social determinants of health
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1480553
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