A report in JAMA Internal Medicine reveals the socioeconomic disparities in pulmonary disease, respiratory symptoms and lung function.

“Few studies of socioeconomic disparities in lung health have spanned the period that saw landmark policy changes affecting smoking, air quality, occupational exposures and health care access,” Adam W. Gaffney, MD, MPH, pulmonary specialist at Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts and Harvard Medical School, and colleagues wrote in JAMA Internal Medicine. “Moreover, because reduced lung function is associated with elevated all-cause mortality (through mechanisms not fully understood), increased socioeconomic disparities in lung function may contribute to the widening gap in life expectancy between poorer and wealthier Americans in the 21st century.”

Researchers conducted a repeated cross-sectional analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys and predecessor surveys conducted from 1959 to 2018 to describe the long-term trends in socioeconomic disparities in respiratory health.

The analysis included 215,399 participants who were surveyed from 1959 to 2018.

Rates of smoking decreased from 1971 to 2018 among all adults aged 25 to 74 years, but the researchers observed an increase in income- and education-based disparities in smoking prevalence.

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