Socioeconomic inequalities in health and health-behaviours – a systems approach


Socioeconomic inequalities in health represent a major scientific and societal challenge. In the Netherlands, low socioeconomic groups die on average five years earlier, and live fourteen more years with diseases and disabilities, than high socioeconomic groups. Also, unhealthy behaviours (like smoking) are more prevalent among low socioeconomic groups. Social causation frameworks explain these inequalities by a higher exposure of low socioeconomic groups to various challenging environmental conditions (e.g. financial problems, stress). Due to a lack of data, most studies took a linear instead of dynamic approach to explain health inequalities, i.e. neglecting interlinkages between multiple environmental conditions, changes in these conditions over time, and interactions with individual factors. This may have led to an underestimation of the importance of certain factors for health inequalities (e.g. environmental conditions) and, in turn, to ineffective interventions (e.g. targeting health-behaviours of low socioeconomic groups without improving related environmental conditions).
My overall aim is to understand how multiple, time-varying, interlinked environmental conditions, in interaction with individual factors, contribute to socioeconomic inequalities in health and health-behaviours, by applying an interdisciplinary systems approach, including:
1) Delphi study to advance the operationalisation of SEP; and qualitative interviews to understand socioeconomic differences in the conceptualisation and prioritization of health, and how this relates to challenging environmental conditions;
2) Longitudinal analyses to investigate relations between (changes in) SEP, environmental conditions, individual factors, health-behaviours and health over time;
3) Experiment to explore socioeconomic differences in (ir)rational behavioural responses;
4) Agent-based modelling, as this innovative technique is able to capture the dynamics underlying health inequalities in a simulation model. Steps 1-3 deliver crucial information to develop an advanced model to calculate the potential impact of policies on health inequalities.
My research program advances scientific knowledge and delivers decisive information to policymakers to maximise the health potential of low socioeconomic groups





Dr. C.B.M. Kamphuis

Verbonden aan

Universiteit Utrecht


01/11/2019 tot 31/10/2024