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HOME > J Prev Med Public Health > Volume 40(6); 2007 > Article
Review Health Inequalities in Korea: Current Conditions and Implications.
Yu Mi Kim, Myoung Hee Kim
Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health 2007;40(6):431-438
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1Department of Preventive Medicine, Hanyang University College of Medicine.
2Department of Preventive Medicine, Eulji University College of Medicine.

The aim of this study is to summarize the current conditions and implications of health inequalities in South Korea. METHODS: Through a literature review of empirical studies and supplementary analysis of the data presented in the 1998, 2001, and 2005 KNHANEs, we evaluated the extent and trends of socioeconomic inequalities in both health risk factors, such as smoking, physical activity, and obesity, and outcomes, such as total mortality, subjective poor health status by self-reports and metabolic syndrome. Relative risks and odds ratios were used to measure differences across socioeconomic groups, and the relative index of inequality was used to evaluate the changes in inequalities over time. RESULTS: We found clear inequalities to various degrees in most health indicators. While little change was observed in mortality differences over time, the socioeconomic gaps in risk factors and morbidity have been widening, with much larger differences among the younger population. CONCLUSIONS: Socioeconomic inequalities are pervasive across various health indicators, and some of them are increasing. The trends in socioeconomic inequalities in health should be carefully monitored, and comprehensive measures to alleviate health inequalities are needed, especially for young populations.

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