Do conceptualisations of health differ across social strata? A concept mapping study among lay people

Karien Stronks*, Nancy Hoeymans, Beatrijs Haverkamp, Frank R.J. den Hertog, Marja J.H. van Bon-Martens, Henrike Galenkamp, Marcel Verweij, Hans A.M. van Oers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives The legitimacy of policies that aim at tackling socioeconomic inequalities in health can be challenged if they do not reflect the conceptualisations of health that are valued in all strata. Therefore, this study analyses how different socioeconomic groups formulate their own answers regarding: what does health mean to you? Design Concept mapping procedures were performed in three groups that differ in educational level. All procedures followed exactly the same design. Setting Area of the city of Utrecht, the Netherlands. Participants Lay persons with a lower, intermediate and higher educational level (±15/group). Results The concept maps for the three groups consisted of nine, eight and seven clusters each, respectively. Four clusters occurred in all groups: absence of disease/disabilities, health-related behaviours, social life, attitude towards life. The content of some of these differed between groups, for example, behaviours were interpreted as having opportunities to behave healthily in the lower education group, and in terms of their impact on health in the higher education group. Other clusters appeared to be specific for particular groups, such as autonomy (intermediate/higher education group). Finally, ranking ranged from a higher ranking of the positively formulated aspects in the higher education group (eg, lust for life) to that of the negatively formulated aspects in the lower education group (eg, having no chronic disease). Conclusion Our results provide indications to suggest that people in lower socioeconomic groups are more likely to show a conceptualisation of health that refers to (1) the absence of health threats (vs positive aspects), (2) a person within his/her circumstances (vs quality of own body/mind), (3) the value of functional (vs hedonistic) notions and (4) an accepting (vs active) attitude towards life.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere020210
JournalBMJ Open
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2018

Keywords

  • concept mapping
  • conceptualisations of health
  • inequalities in health

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