The aim of this study was to examine the effects of age, sex and social deprivation on mortality rates for respiratory infection. An ecological study was undertaken, using official public health mortality data and population census data for the West Midlands health region, UK. Postcodes at the time of death were used to assign Townsend deprivation scores and the resulting deprivation quintile. Poisson regression analysis was used to estimate the association between respiratory mortality, deprivation quintile, age and sex. In most age groups there was a statistically significant trend of increasing mortality with increasing deprivation. The relative risk for the most deprived was highest in the 45-64 year age-group (RR=4.4, 95% CI 4.0, 4.8). However, the absolute risks were greater in those aged 75-84 years (RR=1.3, 95% CI 1.3, 1.4) where the annual death rate was 669 per 100,000. Consistently higher mortality rates were seen in males. These results suggest that the risk of mortality from respiratory infection varies by sex and generally increases with increasing age and deprivation quintile. The identified association between deprivation and mortality from respiratory infections is consistent with the effect of deprivation on many other diseases. Addressing the social determinants of ill health may help to reduce the high burden of respiratory mortality in the UK. However, individual level studies and examination of other areas are needed to explain the mechanisms by which deprivation increases the risk of mortality from respiratory infection, and thereby identify target groups for effective interventions.
- Ecological study
- Respiratory infection