Trends in mortality risk by education level and cause of death among US White Women from 1986 to 2006

Jennifer Karas Montez, Anna Zajacova

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

57 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives. To elucidate why the inverse association between education level and mortality risk (the gradient) has increased markedly among White women since the mid-1980s, we identified causes of death for which the gradient increased. Methods. We used data from the 1986 to 2006 National Health Interview Survey Linked Mortality File on non-Hispanic White women aged 45 to 84 years (n = 230 692). We examined trends in the gradient by cause of death across 4 time periods and 4 education levels using age-standardized death rates. Results. During 1986 to 2002, the growing gradient for all-cause mortality reflected increasing mortality among low-educated women and declining mortality among college-educated women; during 2003 to 2006 it mainly reflected declining mortality among college-educated women. The gradient increased for heart disease, lung cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease. Lung cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease explained 47% of the overall increase. Conclusions. Mortality disparities among White women widened across 1986 to 2006 partially because of causes of death for which smoking is a major risk factor. A comprehensive policy framework should address the social conditions that influence smoking among disadvantaged women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-479
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Volume103
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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