February 20, 2014
We examined how socioeconomic position (SEP) across the lifecourse (three critical periods, social mobility and accumulated over time) is associated with allostatic load (a measure of cumulative physiological burden).
Data are from the West of Scotland Twenty-07 Study, with respondents aged 35 (n = 740), 55 (n = 817) and 75 (n = 483). SEP measures representing childhood, the transition to adulthood and adulthood SEP were used. Allostatic load was produced by summing nine binary biomarker scores (1 = in the highest-risk quartile). Linear regressions were used for each of the lifecourse models; with model fits compared using partial F-tests.
For those aged 35 and 55, higher SEP was associated with lower allostatic load (no association in the 75-year-olds). The accumulation model (more time spent with higher SEP) had the best model fit in those aged 35 (b = -0.50, 95%CI = -0.68, -0.32, P = 0.002) and 55 (b = -0.31, 95%CI = -0.49, -0.12, P < 0.001). However, the relative contributions of each life-stage differed, with adulthood SEP less strongly associated with allostatic load.
Long-term, accumulated higher SEP has been shown to be associated with lower allostatic load (less physiological burden). However, the transition to adulthood may represent a particularly sensitive period for SEP to impact on allostatic load.
BMC Public Health
Volume and page numbers
Volume: 14 , p.184
Open Access article