Syn: health disparities, gap. The differences in levels of health indicators associated with and often correlated with inequalities of socioeconomic levels. These inequalities are related to the effects of educational, housing, environmental and occupational factors, gender, and ethnicity, and to behavioral factors, such as differences in exposure to cigarette smoking and other risk factors. Differences in values, such as belief in the virtues of physical exercise and access to and ability to pay for sporting facilities, also play a part. Psychoneuroimmunological factors related to self-esteem may influence the risk of conditions that relate to hierarchical position in clerical and professional occupations, favoring those at the highest occupational levels over those below them in health risks as well as in income, but housing conditions, crowding, and exposure to infectious pathogens, educational opportunities, ease or difficulty of access to health care services, and the like, are usually more important. See also social class and socioeconomic status (SES).
Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.