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Socioeconomic inequalities in occupational, leisure-time, and transport related physical activity among European adults: A systematic review

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      Abstract

      Background

      This study systematically reviewed the evidence pertaining to socioeconomic inequalities in different domains of physical activity (PA) by European region.

      Methods

      Studies conducted between January 2000 and December 2010 were identified by a systematic search in Pubmed, Embase, Web of Science, Psychinfo, Sportdiscus, Sociological Abstracts, and Social Service Abstracts. English-language peer-reviewed studies undertaken in the general population of adults (18–65 years) were classified by domain of PA (total, leisure-time including sport, occupational, active transport), indicator of socioeconomic position (education, income, occupation), and European region. Distributions of reported positive, negative, and null associations were evaluated.

      Results

      A total of 131 studies met the inclusion criteria. Most studies were conducted in Scandinavia (n = 47). Leisure-time PA was the most frequently studied PA outcome (n = 112). Considerable differences in the direction of inequalities were seen for the different domains of PA. Most studies reported that those with high socioeconomic position were more physically active during leisure-time compared to those with low socioeconomic position (68% positive associations for total leisure-time PA, 76% for vigorous leisure-time PA). Occupational PA was more prevalent among the lower socioeconomic groups (63% negative associations). Socioeconomic differences in total PA and active transport PA did not show a consistent pattern (40% and 38% positive associations respectively). Some inequalities differed by European region or socioeconomic indicator, however these differences were not very pronounced.

      Conclusions

      The direction of socioeconomic inequalities in PA in Europe differed considerably by domain of PA. The contradictory results for total PA may partly be explained by contrasting socioeconomic patterns for leisure-time PA and occupational PA.

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      Most cited references 166

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      International physical activity questionnaire: 12-country reliability and validity.

      Physical inactivity is a global concern, but diverse physical activity measures in use prevent international comparisons. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) was developed as an instrument for cross-national monitoring of physical activity and inactivity. Between 1997 and 1998, an International Consensus Group developed four long and four short forms of the IPAQ instruments (administered by telephone interview or self-administration, with two alternate reference periods, either the "last 7 d" or a "usual week" of recalled physical activity). During 2000, 14 centers from 12 countries collected reliability and/or validity data on at least two of the eight IPAQ instruments. Test-retest repeatability was assessed within the same week. Concurrent (inter-method) validity was assessed at the same administration, and criterion IPAQ validity was assessed against the CSA (now MTI) accelerometer. Spearman's correlation coefficients are reported, based on the total reported physical activity. Overall, the IPAQ questionnaires produced repeatable data (Spearman's rho clustered around 0.8), with comparable data from short and long forms. Criterion validity had a median rho of about 0.30, which was comparable to most other self-report validation studies. The "usual week" and "last 7 d" reference periods performed similarly, and the reliability of telephone administration was similar to the self-administered mode. The IPAQ instruments have acceptable measurement properties, at least as good as other established self-reports. Considering the diverse samples in this study, IPAQ has reasonable measurement properties for monitoring population levels of physical activity among 18- to 65-yr-old adults in diverse settings. The short IPAQ form "last 7 d recall" is recommended for national monitoring and the long form for research requiring more detailed assessment.
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        Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence.

        The primary purpose of this narrative review was to evaluate the current literature and to provide further insight into the role physical inactivity plays in the development of chronic disease and premature death. We confirm that there is irrefutable evidence of the effectiveness of regular physical activity in the primary and secondary prevention of several chronic diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity, depression and osteoporosis) and premature death. We also reveal that the current Health Canada physical activity guidelines are sufficient to elicit health benefits, especially in previously sedentary people. There appears to be a linear relation between physical activity and health status, such that a further increase in physical activity and fitness will lead to additional improvements in health status.
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          Socioeconomic inequalities in health in 22 European countries.

          Comparisons among countries can help to identify opportunities for the reduction of inequalities in health. We compared the magnitude of inequalities in mortality and self-assessed health among 22 countries in all parts of Europe. We obtained data on mortality according to education level and occupational class from census-based mortality studies. Deaths were classified according to cause, including common causes, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer; causes related to smoking; causes related to alcohol use; and causes amenable to medical intervention, such as tuberculosis and hypertension. Data on self-assessed health, smoking, and obesity according to education and income were obtained from health or multipurpose surveys. For each country, the association between socioeconomic status and health outcomes was measured with the use of regression-based inequality indexes. In almost all countries, the rates of death and poorer self-assessments of health were substantially higher in groups of lower socioeconomic status, but the magnitude of the inequalities between groups of higher and lower socioeconomic status was much larger in some countries than in others. Inequalities in mortality were small in some southern European countries and very large in most countries in the eastern and Baltic regions. These variations among countries appeared to be attributable in part to causes of death related to smoking or alcohol use or amenable to medical intervention. The magnitude of inequalities in self-assessed health also varied substantially among countries, but in a different pattern. We observed variation across Europe in the magnitude of inequalities in health associated with socioeconomic status. These inequalities might be reduced by improving educational opportunities, income distribution, health-related behavior, or access to health care. Copyright 2008 Massachusetts Medical Society.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, Netherlands
            [2 ]School of Public Health/Institute for Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
            [3 ]School of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
            [4 ]Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands
            [5 ]Department of Public Health, AMC, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
            Contributors
            Journal
            Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act
            Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act
            The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
            BioMed Central
            1479-5868
            2012
            19 September 2012
            : 9
            : 116
            22992350
            3491027
            1479-5868-9-116
            10.1186/1479-5868-9-116
            Copyright ©2012 Beenackers et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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