Gastroesophageal reflux constitutes a major public health problem in the Western world.
Few population-based studies have addressed socioeconomic factors in relation to reflux.
Dr Catarina Jansson and colleagues from Sweden conducted a case-control study based on 2 health surveys performed in the Norwegian county from 1984 to 1986, and 1995 to 1997, respectively.
Reflux was assessed in the second survey, comprising 65,333 participants representing 70% of the county's adult population.
|There was a 2-fold increased risk of reflux among persons with low education|
|Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology|
Among 58,596 persons responding to questions regarding reflux symptoms, 3153 persons reporting severe symptoms represented the cases.
The team reported that 40,210 persons without symptoms represented the controls.
The research team collected data in questionnaires including socioeconomic status based on occupation, education.
Questions were also based on material deprivation; family situation, and potential confounders.
Odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were estimated from unconditional logistic regression in crude models.
The team adjusted the models for age, sex, smoking, and body mass.
The researchers found that the risk of reflux increased with decreasing levels of socioeconomic status based on occupation, education, and material deprivation.
Increased risks of reflux were seen among unskilled laborers, skilled laborers, self-employed individuals, and farmers.
The researchers observed a 2-fold increased risk of reflux among persons with low education, compared with highly educated persons.
The team found that reflux was more common among materially deprived persons.
The results were similar in crude and adjusted models.
Dr Jansson's team concluded, "This large population-based study reveals a link between low socioeconomic status and reflux symptoms that is not explained by the known risk factors of smoking or obesity."
"This finding deserves further research."