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Open Access Research article

Council tax valuation bands, socio-economic status and health outcome: a cross-sectional analysis from the Caerphilly Health and Social Needs Study

David L Fone12*, Frank Dunstan1, Stephen Christie3, Andrew Jones4, Jonathan West2, Margaret Webber2, Nathan Lester5 and John Watkins12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology, Statistics and Public Health, Centre for Health Sciences Research, School of Medicine, Cardiff, UK

2 National Public Health Service for Wales, Mamhilad, Wales, UK

3 Centre for Social Research and Evaluation, Ministry of Social Development, Wellington, New Zealand

4 National Public Health Service for Wales, Bangor, Wales, UK

5 National Public Health Service for Wales, Cardiff, Wales, UK

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:115  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-115

Published: 2 May 2006

Abstract

Council tax valuation bands (CTVBs) are a categorisation of household property value in Great Britain. The aim of the study was to assess the CTVB as a measure of socio-economic status by comparing the strength of the associations between selected health and lifestyle outcomes and CTVBs with two measures of socio-economic status: the National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC) and the 2001 UK census-based Townsend deprivation index.

Methods

Cross-sectional analysis of data on 12,092 respondents (adjusted response 62.7%) to the Caerphilly Health and Social Needs Study, a postal questionnaire survey undertaken in Caerphilly county borough, south-east Wales, UK. The CTVB was assigned to each individual by matching the sampling frame to the local authority council tax register. Crude and age-gender adjusted odds ratios for each category of CTVB, NS-SEC and fifth of the ward distribution of Townsend scores were estimated for smoking, poor diet, obesity, and limiting long-term illness using logistic regression. Mean mental (MCS) and physical (PCS) component summary scores of the Short-Form SF-36 health status questionnaire were estimated in general linear models.

Results

There were significant trends in odds ratios across the CTVB categories for all outcomes, most marked for smoking and mental and physical health status. The adjusted odds ratio for being a smoker in the lowest versus highest CTVB category was 3.80 (95% CI: 3.06, 4.71), compared to 3.00 (95% CI: 2.30, 3.90) for the NS-SEC 'never worked and long-term unemployed' versus 'higher managerial and professional' categories, and 1.61 (95% CI: 1.42, 1.83) for the most deprived versus the least deprived Townsend fifth. The difference in adjusted mean MCS scores was 5.9 points on the scale for CTVB, 9.2 for NS-SEC and 3.2 for the Townsend score. The values for the adjusted mean PCS scores were 6.3 points for CTVB, 11.3 for NS-SEC, and 2.5 for the Townsend score.

Conclusion

CTVBs assigned to individuals were strongly associated with the health and lifestyle outcomes modelled in this study. CTVBs are readily available for all residential properties and deserve further consideration as a proxy for socio-economic status in epidemiological studies in Great Britain.