Wednesday 18 May 2011

Investigating a 'Glasgow Effect'

Recent research has highlighted the existence of a ‘Scottish Effect’, a term used to describe the higher levels of mortality and poor health experienced in Scotland over and above that explained by socio-economic circumstances. Evidence of this ‘excess’ being concentrated in West Central Scotland has led to discussion of a more specific ‘Glasgow Effect’.   

This study compared health and deprivation in three cities Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester. The findings of the study showed that the deprivation profiles of Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester were almost identical. Despite this, premature deaths in Glasgow are more than 30% higher, with all deaths around 15% higher than in the other cities. This ‘excess’ mortality is seen across virtually the whole population: all ages (except the very young), both males and females, in deprived and non-deprived neighbourhoods. 

These results emphasise that while deprivation is a fundamental determinant of health and, therefore, an important driver of mortality, it is only one part of a complex picture. As currently measured, deprivation does not explain the higher levels of mortality experienced by Glasgow in relation to two very similar UK cities. 

Additional explanations are required. This research, in particular the creation of the small area based three-city deprivation measure, has allowed identification of communities in Glasgow which, although almost identical to similar sized areas in Liverpool and Manchester in terms of their socio-economic characteristics, have significantly poorer health outcomes. These are now the focus for the second, qualitative, phase of research.

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