Navigation Links
New medical conditions more likely to spark healthy changes among better-educated middle-aged people

WASHINGTON, DC, August 27, 2013 -- Better-educated middle-aged Americans are less likely to smoke and more apt to be physically active than their less-educated peers. They are also more inclined to make healthy changes -- in general and in the face of new medical conditions -- and adhere to them, according to a new study in the September issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

"This study documents that there are very large differences by education in smoking and physical activity trajectories in middle age, even though many health habits are already set by this stage of the life course," said study author Rachel Margolis, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Western Ontario. "Health behavior changes are surprisingly common between ages 50 and 75, and the fact that better-educated middle-aged people are more likely to stop smoking, start physical activity, and maintain both of these behaviors over time has important health ramifications."

In her study, "Educational Differences in Healthy Behavior Changes and Adherence Among Middle-aged Americans," Margolis draws on data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a longitudinal study of aging that is nationally representative of the U.S. population above age 50. Her analysis considers more than 16,600 HRS participants ages 50-75 during the study period 1992-2010.

Margolis found that 15 percent of college-educated respondents smoked at some point between ages 50-75, compared to 41 percent of college dropouts. There were also large differences by education in physical activity over the study period. For example, 14 percent of college-educated respondents were physically active at all interviews during the study period, compared with 2 percent of those with less than a high school education. In addition to college graduates and high school dropouts, Margolis analyzed people with only a high school degree and individuals with some college education.

According to Margolis, health problems arise throughout the life course and how people respond to new medical conditions can shape their future health. "I studied whether education affected the likelihood that people changed their behavior after they learned they had a condition that necessitated behavior modification for disease management," she said. "I found that having more education increased the odds that a person made a healthy behavior change when faced with a new chronic health condition. This finding helps explain why there are educational differences in chronic disease management and health outcomes."

Margolis also discovered that one's level of education became decreasingly important as a moderator of healthy behavior changes upon diagnosis as age increased. Having more education increased the odds of smoking cessation among people in their 50s who were diagnosed with a new condition, but not those in their 60s or early 70s.

"Well-educated smokers in their 60s and early 70s are a small and select group," Margolis said. "They may be the most addicted or the most stubborn."

Another possible explanation for why well-educated smokers in their 50s were more likely to quit than those in their 60s and early 70s is that the longer people expect to live when they get sick, the more likely they are to make a healthy behavior change, Margolis said.

Interestingly, although Margolis found that better-educated people were much more likely to, for example, quit smoking when they got sick, her research also revealed that those with lower levels of education were also more likely to quit after receiving a negative diagnosis than when they were healthy.

"To improve overall population health, my research suggests that health practitioners and policymakers can take better advantage of the fact that people from all educational backgrounds are more inclined to make healthy changes at the point of diagnosis and focus on encouraging healthy changes at that time," she said.


Contact: Daniel Fowler
American Sociological Association

Related medicine news :

1. Physician Groups Call for Fewer Medical Tests
2. Weill Cornell Medical College establishes Center for Healthcare Informatics and Policy
3. CAM therapy combined with conventional medical care may improve treatment of lower back pain
4. Image share project gives patients and physicians anytime, anywhere access to medical images
5. Researchers determine vitamin D blood level for reducing major medical risks in older adults
6. Biomedical researchers receive Hartwell Foundation awards
7. Columbia University Medical Center and NY-Presbyterian experts at APA meeting
8. Fitness in Middle Age Lowers Medical Costs Later: Study
9. Ben-Gurion U. and Cincinnati Childrens Hospital to develop pediatric-specific medical technologies
10. Gene Tests May Not Drive Patients to More Medical Care
11. University studies and career expectations of medical students
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... The holiday ... dish and pleasing the palates of attendees is of the utmost importance. Whether ... a seasonal get-together, give these recipes a try this holiday season. , Turkey ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nairobi (PRWEB) , ... November 26, 2015 , ... ... African Union Commission (AUC), European Union (EU), ANDI Pan African Centres of Excellence, ... Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON) for the opening of the 5th African Network ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 25, 2015 , ... Dental professionals who would like to become more proficient ... attend Dr. Mark Iacobelli’s Advanced Implant Mentoring (AIM) CE course. Courses will be held ... the co-founders of Advanced Implant Mentoring (AIM), Dr. Iacobelli and Dr. D’Orazio are proud ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Smiles by Stevens is pleased to announce the ... While many patients are aware of the benefits of Botox® in the treatment of ... suffering with discomfort, soreness, and pain as a result of Jaw Tension, TMJ (temporo-mandibular ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... “While riding the bus, I saw a ... “I thought there had to be a convenient and comfortable way to protect them ... enables disabled individuals to safely travel during cold or inclement weather. In doing so, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... STOCKHOLM , November 26, 2015 ... the potential to use SyMRI to find optimal contrast weighting ... brain tumor metastases, and has signed a research agreement with ... at the hospital. Using SyMRI, it is possible to generate ... parameter settings after the patient has left, thus making it ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... the addition of the  "2016 Future ... Global Cell Surface Testing Market: Supplier ... to their offering.  --> ... of the  "2016 Future Horizons and ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... --> adds "Global Repaglinide ... "Investigation Report on China Repaglinide Market, ... forecasts data and information to its ... . --> ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: