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Identifying socio-demographic and socioeconomic determinants of health inequalities in a diverse London community: the South East London Community Health (SELCoH) study (2011)

S. L. Hatch, S. Frissa, M. Verdecchia, R. Stewart, N. T. Fear, A. Reichenberg, C Morgan, B. Kankulu, J Clark, B. Gazard, R. Medcalf, M. Hotopf  



Modern inner cities have characteristics that can impact the patterns of physical and mental health found within them. However, most of the information about levels of mental and physical ill health have come from studies that look at the nation as a whole. 

We conducted a community based study in an inner city London community that aimed to 1) look at how common different mental and physical health conditions were; 2) investigate whether these health outcomes were more common in particular groups of people and 3) look at whether these health outcomes were linked to day-to-day functioning.

How was the study conducted?

We used data from the South East London Community Health (SELCoH) Study, which measured mental and physical health in 1698 adults (aged 16+) living in the south London boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth from 2008 to 2010. Participants answered questions on common mental disorders (like depression and anxiety), problematic use of alcohol, general health, long standing illness and whether any physical health or emotional problems interfered with their life. We collected data on personal characteristics including gender, ethnicity, age, relationship status and borough of residence. Participants also reported on their educational attainment, social class, employment status, household income and housing tenure.

What did we find?

Nearly a quarter of people interviewed reported a common mental disorder (24.2%) and 15.7% reported problematic use of alcohol. Close to half (44.9%) reported having a long standing illness and 19.2% rated their health as fair or poor. Individuals with a common mental disorder, poor general health and long standing illness were all more likely to report a lower income, have lower levels of education and not currently be working. Older people were more likely to have physical health problems. Individuals who were currently working, with higher education or higher income levels were less likely to report common mental disorder, poor general health or long standing illness, but they were more likely to report problematic use of alcohol. 

People who reported problematic alcohol use, poor general health and long standing illness were also more likely to have a common mental disorder. People with a common mental disorder, poor general health and long standing illness were all likely to report limitations in their daily life.


The findings from our study support previous research which suggests that individuals who are out of work, with lower education, and with lower income have poorer physical and mental health outcomes. 


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