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In the Netherlands, as in many European countries, inequalities in health exist between people with a high and a low socioeconomic status (SES). From the perspective of the 'indirect selection hypothesis', this study was designed to expand our understanding of the role of Type D personality as an explanation of health inequalities.
Data came from two cross-sectional Dutch surveys among the general population (aged between 19 and 64 years, response 53.7%, n = 12,090). We analyzed the relative risks of low SES, assessed using education and income, and Type D personality, assessed using the Type D Scale-14 (DS14), for different outcomes regarding lifestyle-related risk factors and health, using multivariate Generalized Linear Models.
Results showed that Type D personality was significantly associated with low SES (OR = 1.7 for both low education and low income). Moreover, the relative risks of Type D personality and low SES were significantly elevated for most adverse health outcomes, unconditionally as well as conditionally.
The cross-sectional design hinders the making of definite etiological inferences. Nevertheless, our findings suggest that Type D personality does not explain the socioeconomic health inequalities, but is a risk factor in addition to low SES. Prevention of adverse health outcomes in low SES populations may have more effect when it takes into account that persons with a low SES in combination with a Type D personality are at highest risk.