Education and health and well-being: direct and indirect effects with multiple mediators and interactions with multiple imputed data in Stata

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Abstract

Background

Previous methods for assessing mediation assume no multiplicative interactions. The inverse odds weighting (IOW) approach has been presented as a method that can be used even when interactions exist. The substantive aim of this study was to assess the indirect effect of education on health and well-being via four indicators of adult socioeconomic status (SES): income, management position, occupational hierarchy position and subjective social status.

Methods

8516 men and women from the Tromsø Study (Norway) were followed for 17 years. Education was measured at age 25–74 years, while SES and health and well-being were measured at age 42–91 years. Natural direct and indirect effects (NIE) were estimated using weighted Poisson regression models with IOW. Stata code is provided that makes it easy to assess mediation in any multiple imputed dataset with multiple mediators and interactions.

Results

Low education was associated with lower SES. Consequently, low SES was associated with being unhealthy and having a low level of well-being. The effect (NIE) of education on health and well-being is mediated by income, management position, occupational hierarchy position and subjective social status.

Conclusion

This study contributes to the literature on mediation analysis, as well as the literature on the importance of education for health-related quality of life and subjective well-being. The influence of education on health and well-being had different pathways in this Norwegian sample.

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