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New medical conditions more likely to spark healthy changes among better-educated middle-aged people
Date:8/28/2013

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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 o
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Contact: Daniel Fowler
pubinfo@asanet.org
202-527-7885
American Sociological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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