How Physical Environmental and Sociocultural Factors Contribute to Socioeconomic Differences in Health-Related Behaviours
How do physical and sociocultural environmental circumstances relate to socioeconomic inequalities in health-behaviours?
My research focuses on socioeconomic inequalities in health and health-behaviours in The Netherlands. Being healthy is highly valued by most individuals, but acting in a health-promoting way in our day-to-day lives is much more difficult. This includes behaviours such being physical activity (cycling, walking, sports participation), healthy food choices, and non-smoking. My fascination –and urge to solve this problem- lies with the fact that many unhealthy behaviours somehow seem to cluster within lower socioeconomic groups, i.e. those with a lower educational level, or a lower income level. The fact that different health-behaviours follow the same socioeconomic gradient suggests that the causes should likely be looked for in non-behaviour specific factors, e.g. more general living circumstances. Knowing more about which of these circumstances, under which people grow up, work and reside, a matter for health-behaviours, may provide valuable input for policies and interventions to reduce the gap in health between low and high socioeconomic groups.
For these reasons, my focus is on better understanding how and which environmental circumstances differ between low and high socioeconomic groups, and to what extent these contribute to differences in health-behaviours. At NIAS, I would like to explore theories from various disciplines, such as sociology, psychology and biology fields, to find out how these could offer new insights in the role of specific environmental circumstances for inequalities, or the underlying processes leading to unhealthy behaviours, and write down the acquired insights in a VIDI-proposal.
Kamphuis CB, Turrell G, Giskes K, Mackenbach JP, Van Lenthe FJ. Life course socioeconomic conditions, adulthood risk factors and cardiovascular mortality among men and women: a 17-year follow up of the GLOBE study. Int J Cardiol 2013, Oct 3;168(3):2207-13.
Fishman E, Schepers P, Kamphuis CB. Dutch Cycling: Quantifying the Health and Related Economic Benefits. Am J Public Health. 2015 Aug;105(8):e13-5.