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Open Access Research

Could gastrointestinal disorders differ in two close but divergent social environments?

Ewa Grodzinsky1, Claes Hallert2, Tomas Faresjö3, Elisabet Bergfors1 and Åshild Olsen Faresjö3*

Author Affiliations

1 R & D Unit, Local Health Care, County Council of Östergötland, SE-581 85 Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden

2 Dept of Social and Welfare Studies, Campus Norrköping, Linköping University, SE-581 83 Linköping, Sweden

3 Dept of Medicine and Health Sciences, Linköping University, SE-581 83 Linköping, Sweden

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International Journal of Health Geographics 2012, 11:5  doi:10.1186/1476-072X-11-5

Published: 6 February 2012

Abstract

Background

Many public health problems in modern society affect the gastrointestinal area. Knowledge of the disease occurrence in populations is better understood if viewed in a psychosocial context including indicators of the social environment where people spend their lives. The general aim of this study was to estimate the occurrence in the population and between sexes of common gastrointestinal conditions in two neighborhood cities representing two different social environments defined as a "white-collar" and a "blue-collar" city.

Methods

We conducted a retrospective register study using data of diagnosed gastrointestinal disorders (cumulative incidence rates) derived from an administrative health care register based on medical records assigned by the physicians at hospitals and primary care.

Results

Functional gastrointestinal diseases and peptic ulcers were more frequent in the white-collar city, while diagnoses in the gallbladder area were significantly more frequent in the blue-collar city. Functional dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome, and unspecified functional bowel diseases, and celiac disease, were more frequent among women while esophageal reflux, peptic ulcers, gastric and rectal cancers were more frequent among men regardless of social environment.

Conclusions

Knowledge of the occurrence of gastrointestinal problems in populations is better understood if viewed in a context were the social environment is included. Indicators of the social environment should therefore also be considered in future studies of the occurrence of gastrointestinal problems.

Keywords:
Social environment; General population; Gastrointestinal disorders; Sex; Public health