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A recent survey suggests that people with lower education and income levels are more likely to experience symptoms of colds and flu, headaches, and pain than those with higher levels. The survey also reveals that on any given day 23 percent of the adults in the United States report feeling physical pain while the rate among people earning less than $12,000 is 46.6 percent.

STONY BROOK (US)—High school dropouts are roughly twice as likely to catch a cold as those with a college degree, new research suggests.

The findings identify a link between socioeconomic status and common symptoms of disease, including pain, headaches, and the common cold.

The study published in a recent issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine could prompt new questions about the causal connections between status and illness. The research was based on a 2008 Gallup-Healthways telephone survey of more than 350,000 adults in the United States.

Study leader Arthur Stone, Distinguished Professor and Vice Chairman of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stony Brook University and colleagues from Princeton University, University College London, and the Gallup Organization report that people with lower education and income levels are more likely to experience symptoms of colds and flu, headaches, and pain than those with higher levels even when such factors as age, access to health care, and medical history are taken into consideration.

The measurement of symptoms was based on whether or not they occurred “yesterday” in order to ensure accuracy.

The greatest differences in symptoms occur at the lower ends of the education and income spectrums, but they are seen across almost all categories.  The paper shows, for example, that people who did not finish high school are roughly twice as likely to catch a cold, have a headache, or experience pain than those with a college degree.

The survey also reveals that on any given day 23 percent of the adults in the United States report feeling physical pain while the rate among people earning less than $12,000 is 46.6 percent.

Stony Brook University news: www.stonybrook.edu/news