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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


MACHON, Mónica  and  GRUPO DE DETERMINANTES SOCIALES DE LA SALUD DE LA SOCIEDAD ESPANOLA DE EPIDEMIOLOGIA et al. Socioeconomic inequalities in health among the elderly population in Spain. Gac Sanit [online]. 2020, vol.34, n.3, pp.276-288.  Epub Oct 13, 2020. ISSN 0213-9111.


To examine socioeconomic inequalities in health in the older population in Spain.


A systematic search and review of the literature published between 2000 and 2017 in English and Spanish was conducted in Social Science Citation Index, Sociology Database, Scopus, PubMed and Embase. Primary and secondary studies analysing these inequalities in Spain were included. Two researchers were responsible for the selection of the studies and the extraction of the information (first author, year of publication, region, design, population/sample, socioeconomic and health indicators used, and main results).


A total of 89 articles were included, corresponding to 87 studies. Of the studies, 81.6% were crosssectional, 88.5% included only non-institutionalised population and 35.6% were carried out at a national level. The studies analysed social inequalities in the following health indicators: functional status (n = 29), morbidity (n = 19), self-perceived health (n = 18), mental and emotional health (n = 10), cognitive status (n = 7), quality of life (n = 9), mortality (n = 15) and life expectancy (n = 2). Socioeconomic inequalities were detected in all of them, although the magnitude varied depending on the socioeconomic and health indicator used. The educational level and the ecological indexes were the indicators that detected more inequalities in health. The impact of inequalities by sex was different in functional status, morbidity, self-perceived health, mental and emotional health and mortality.


There are socioeconomic inequalities in health among the elderly population and their magnitude varies by sex in some of the health indicators. The increase in educational level and the maintenance of sufficient pensions can be key policies that contribute to the reduction of inequalities in this population group.

Keywords : Socioeconomic inequalities; Health; Older adults; Indicators; Systematic search; Review; Spain.

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