Open Access Research article

Income and education as predictors of return to working life among younger stroke patients

Sven Trygged1*, Kozma Ahacic2 and Ingemar Kåreholt34

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Social Work, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

2 Social medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Box 170 70, 104 62 Stockholm, Sweden

3 ARC Aging Research Centre, Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

4 Department of Social Work, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:742  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-742

Published: 29 September 2011



Socioeconomic conditions are not only related to poor health outcomes, they also contribute to the chances of recovery from stroke. This study examines whether income and education were predictors of return to work after a first stroke among persons aged 40-59.


All first-stroke survivors aged 40-59 who were discharged from a hospital in 1996-2000 and who had received income from work during the year prior to the stroke were sampled from the Swedish national register of in-patient care (n = 7,081). Income and education variables were included in hazard regressions, modelling the probability of returning to work from one to four years after discharge. Adjustments for age, sex, stroke subtype, and length of in-patient care were included in the models.


Both higher income and higher education were associated with higher probability of returning to work. While the association between education and return to work was attenuated by income, individuals with university education were 13 percent more likely to return than those who had completed only compulsory education, and individuals in the highest income quartile were about twice as likely to return as those in the lowest. The association between socioeconomic position and return to work was similar for different stroke subtypes. Income differences between men and women also accounted for women's lower probability of returning to work.


The study demonstrates that education and income were independent predictors of returning to work among stroke patients during the first post-stroke years. Taking the relative risk of return to work among those in the higher socioeconomic positions as the benchmark, there may be considerable room for improvement among patients in lower socioeconomic strata.

socioeconomic position; income; education; work; stroke