Objectives Although there is evidence that socioeconomic conditions in adulthood are associated with worse self-rated health, the putative effect of early adverse life circumstances on adult self-rated health is not consistent. Besides, little is known on this subject in the context of middle-income countries. We aimed to investigate the association between indicators of socioeconomic position in early life and self-rated health in adulthood, taking into account the influence of current socioeconomic position.
Participants 3339 civil servants (44.5% male) working at a public university in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, participants of the Pró-Saúde cohort study.
Measurements Through a lifecourse approach, we evaluated if seven indicators of participants’ socioeconomic position earlier in life were associated with worse self-rated health in adulthood. Ordinal logistic regression analysis with a proportional odds model was used.
Results After adjusting for socioeconomic position in adulthood (education and income), the indicators of early socioeconomic position associated with poor self-rated health were as follows: not eating at home due to lack of money at the age of 12 (OR=1.29 95% CI 1.06 to 1.57) and having lived in a small city or rural area at the age of 12 (OR=1.51 95% CI 1.21 to 1.89).
Conclusions Self-rated health was associated with two indicators of remarkable experiences of poverty in early life, even when socioeconomic conditions improved throughout life. Our findings have shown a long-term impact of extreme socioeconomic hardship during childhood and/or adolescence on the development of social inequalities in health. In terms of implications for public health, our work emphasises that health policies, usually focused on adult lifestyle interventions, should be complemented by initiatives aimed at reducing socioeconomic inequalities during the earliest stages of development, such as childhood and adolescence.
- PUBLIC HEALTH
- PREVENTIVE MEDICINE
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