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Open Access Research article

Impact of socio-economic factors on stroke prevalence among urban and rural residents in Mainland China

Fei Xu1*, Lap Ah Tse23, XiaoMei Yin1, Ignatius Tak-sun Yu23 and Sian Griffiths24

Author Affiliations

1 Nanjing Municipal Center for Disease Control & Prevention, Nanjing, PR China

2 Department of Community and Family Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, PR China

3 Center for Occupational and Environmental Health Studies, School of Public Health, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, PR China

4 School of Public Health, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, PR China

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:170  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-170

Published: 21 May 2008



An inverse relationship between better socioeconomic status (total household income, education or occupation) and stroke has been established in developed communities, but family size has generally not been considered in the use of socioeconomic status indices. We explored the utility of Family Average Income (FAI) as a single index of socioeconomic status to examine the association with stroke prevalence in a region of China, and we also compared its performance as a single index of socioeconomic status with that of education and occupation.


A population-based cross-sectional study was conducted in Nanjing municipality of China during the period between October 2000 and March 2001. A total of 45 administrative villages were randomly selected using a multi-stage sampling approach and all regular local residents aged 35 years or above were included. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression models were used in analysis.


The overall prevalence of diagnosed stroke was 1.54% in all 29,340 eligible participants. An elevated prevalence of stroke was associated with increasing levels of FAI. After adjustment for basic demographic variables (age, urban/rural area and gender) and a group of defined conventional risk factors, this gradient still remained significant, with participants in the highest (OR = 1.94, 95% CI = 1.40, 2.70) and middle (OR = 1.43, 95% CI = 1.01, 2.02) categories of FAI having higher risks compared with the lowest category. A significantly elevated OR of stroke prevalence was found in white collar workers compared to blue collar workers, while no significant relationship was observed with education.


Our study consistently revealed that the prevalence of stroke was associated with increasing levels of all SES indices, including FAI, education, and occupation. However, a significant gradient was only observed with FAI after controlling for important confounding factors. The findings suggested that, compared with occupation and education, FAI could be used as a more sensitive index of socio-economic status for public health studies in China.