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Revista médica de Chile

versión impresa ISSN 0034-9887


FRENZ, PATRICIA  y  GONZALEZ, CLAUDIA. Application of a simple methodological approach to analyze health inequalities: The case of infant mortality in Chile. Rev. méd. Chile [online]. 2010, vol.138, n.9, pp.1157-1164. ISSN 0034-9887.

Background: The infant mortality gradient by maternal education is a good indicator of the health impact of the social inequalities that prevail in Chile. Aim: To propose a systematic method of analysis, using simple epidemiological measures, for the comparison of differential health risks between social groups that change over time. Material and Methods: Data and statistics on births and infant deaths, obtained from the Ministry of Health, were used. Five strata of maternal schooling were defined and various measures were calculated to compare infant mortality, according to maternal education in the periods 1998-2001 and 2001-2003. Results: Of particular interest is the distinction between a measure of effect, Relative Risk (RR), which indicates the size of the gap between socioeconomic extremes and the etiological strength of low maternal schooling on infant mortality, and a measure of global impact, the Population Attributable Risk (PAR%), which takes into account the whole socioeconomic distribution and permits comparisons over time independently of the variability in the proportions of the different social strata. The comparison of these measures in the two periods studied, reveals an increase in the infant mortality gap between maternal educational extremes measured by the RR, but a stabilization in the population impact of low maternal schooling. Conclusions: These results can be explained by a decline in the proportion of mothers in the lowest educational level and an increase in the proportion in the highest group.

Palabras clave : Health risk indicators; Infant mortality; Risk assessment.

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