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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1020-4989

Abstract

ALAZRAQUI, Marcio; MOTA, Eduardo; SPINELLI, Hugo  and  GUEVEL, Carlos. Inequalities in health and socioeconomics: an epidemiological undertaking in an urban area of Argentina. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2007, vol.21, n.1, pp. 1-10. ISSN 1020-4989.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892007000100001.

OBJECTIVES: To understand how certain socioeconomic factors interact with health indicators at the local level, so that health inequalities may be better addressed. METHODS: Several epidemiological methods were applied to study the 431 census block groups of the Lanús municipality in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, from January 1995 to December 2002. Using a cluster study, the block groups were categorized according to demographic and socioeconomic traits. A spatial distribution analysis was conducted of each health-related event in terms of its geographic location (georeference), and comparisons were drawn using box-plot charting for each group. Four types of demographic and socioeconomic data were gathered from the 1991 National Population and Housing Census: housing adequacy, overcrowding, percentage of persons 65 and older in the household, and level of education. The health indicators studied were vaccination coverage among children entering primary school, teen pregnancy rates, and breast cancer mortality rates in women over 40 years old. RESULTS: Teen pregnancy rates fell as socioeconomic conditions improved (c2 = 60.7452; P = 4.074 ´ 10-13). In contrast, the breast cancer mortality rate among women over 40 was higher among those with a better standard of living (c2 = 12.9766; P = 0.0047). Although the average number of children with incomplete vaccination schedules at school entry decreased with improved socioeconomic conditions, the difference was not statistically significant (c2 = 6.3993; P = 0.0937). CONCLUSIONS: The combined methodologies confirmed the correlation between socioeconomic factors and health indicators, especially regarding teen pregnancy and breast cancer mortality rates. The results should be extremely helpful in designing interventions aimed at reducing health inequalities at the local level.

Keywords : Health services accessibility; epidemiology; population characteristics; cluster analysis; community health planning; Argentina.

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