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April 19, 2006

Use of Socioeconomic Status in Health Research—Reply

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2006;295(15):1770. doi:10.1001/jama.295.15.1770-b

In Reply: Dr Uher and colleagues illustrate that measures of SES may vary not only by the specific outcome and population groups being studied, as we had discussed, but also by country and within a given country over time. The same concerns also may apply across regions within a given country. For example, the relationship between education and income or wealth could be different in rural and urban areas or in different urban areas of the same country, depending on economic and social conditions. These points underscore a much broader concept: SES measurement must be context-specific. Because time, place, economic and social conditions, and other circumstances might alter what a given SES measure reflects, researchers (and readers of research) should always consider whether particular SES measures—and assumptions about their meaning—are applicable for a given health outcome and study population in a particular setting.

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