Operationalizing the Measurement of Socioeconomic Position in Our Urogynecology Study Populations: An Illustrative Review

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Abstract

Objectives

The purpose of this illustrative review is to provide guidance for the measurement of socioeconomic position when conducting health disparities research in urogynecology study populations.

Methods

Deidentified data were extracted from existing investigational review board–approved research databases for illustrative purposes. Attributes collected included the study participant's marital status, level of educational attainment (in number of years of school completed) and occupation as well as the study participant's last/only spouses' level of education and occupation. Average household and female socioeconomic position scores were calculated using two established composite indices: (1) Hollingshead Four Factor Index of Social Position, (2) Green's Socioeconomic Status scores, and 2 single-item indices: (1) Hauser-Warren Socioeconomic Index of Occupation, (2) level of educational attainment.

Results

The Hollingshead Four Factor Index of Social Position more than the Hauser-Warren Socioeconomic Index of Occupation provides researchers with a continuous score that is normally distributed with the least skew from the dataset. Their greater standard deviations and low kurtotic values increase the probability that statistically significant differences in health outcomes predicted by socioeconomic position will be detected compared with Green's socioeconomic status scores.

Conclusions

Collection of socioeconomic data is an important first step in gaining a better understanding of health disparities through elimination of confounding bias, and for the development of behavioral, educational, and legislative strategies to eliminate them. We favor average household socioeconomic position scores over female socioeconomic position scores because average household socioeconomic position scores are more reflective of overall resources and opportunities available to each family member.

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