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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


MENDOZA-SASSI, Raúl; BERIA, Jorge U.; FIORI, Nádia  and  BORTOLOTTO, Angéli. Prevalence of signs and symptoms, associated sociodemographic factors and resulting actions in an urban center in southern Brazil. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2006, vol.20, n.1, pp.22-28. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of signs and symptoms in the adult population, the sociodemographic factors associated with them, and the actions taken as a result of these symptoms, according to sex. METHODS: A population-based cross-sectional study was carried out in the city of Rio Grande (state of Rio Grande do Sul), Brazil, in 2000. We interviewed 1 259 people Ž 15 years of age. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire containing 18 symptoms in addition to sociodemographic questions. The prevalence of symptoms and prevalence ratios for sex, age, and socioeconomic status were estimated after alternately adjusting for these variables. The actions resulting from the presence of symptoms were also analyzed for each sex. RESULTS: Mean age was 40.33 years (53.9% were women). The most prevalent symptom was headache (55.4%). Joint pain, insomnia, constipation, high blood pressure, and shortness of breath increased with age. The following were more prevalent among the lower social classes: headache, nervousness, joint and back pain, insomnia and depression, high blood pressure, chest pain, and shortness of breath. A total of 4 424 health problems were reported (an average of 3.25 per person); 60.2% did not generate any action, 31.6% resulted in self-medication, and 8.2% resulted in a visit to a medical facility. Headache, nervousness, joint and back pain, insomnia, depression, constipation, high blood pressure, chest pain, and shortness of breath were significantly higher in women, whereas cough was significantly more prevalent in men. Women and men took similar actions in the presence of signs and symptoms. CONCLUSION: It is necessary to establish health policies that lay an emphasis on mental health and education for self care and on those symptoms that signal the need to go to a health facility. It is also necessary to study the role of social class in determining health behavior and the choice to seek care.

Keywords : Social class; patient acceptance of health care; prevalence; signs and symptoms; Brazil.

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