Ciência & Saúde Coletiva
On-line version ISSN 1678-4561Print version ISSN 1413-8123
FERREIRA, Maria Angela Fernandes and LATORRE, Maria do Rosário Dias de Oliveira. Social inequality and epidemiological studies: a reflection. Ciênc. saúde coletiva [online]. 2012, vol.17, n.9, pp.2523-2531. ISSN 1678-4561. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1413-81232012000900032.
Social indicators are now indispensable in the list of variables of epidemiological studies, based on the fact that the determination of health complaints is complex and multidimensional. From this perspective, social inequality has gained prominence as an explanatory factor for the health conditions of populations. The scope of this article is to discuss the different concepts that underpin the selection of the indicators used in epidemiological studies and examine the psychosocial effects on human beings caused by social inequality. A literature review of epidemiological studies that used social inequality and social capital indicators was conducted for a better understanding of health problems, as well as an investigation in the fields of sociology and social psychology. The research revealed that there is some controversy surrounding the effect of social inequality on health, possibly because these indicators are predominantly based on income and individual consumption capacity. Likewise, social capital indicators at cognitive and structural levels are too limited to understand the dynamism of social relations. Accordingly, further studies are needed for the construction of social indicators capable of examining the complexity of modern societies.
Keywords : Epidemiology; Social indicators; Social inequality.