While socioeconomic inequalities in health-related quality of life are well documented in the scientific literature, research has neglected to look into the reasons for these inequalities. The purpose of this study is to determine in what way social inequalities in health-related quality of life among patients with the same chronic disease could be explained by variations in disease severity.
We used the data of 748 people aging with HIV in Germany who took part in the nationwide study 50plushiv and provided self-report data on socioeconomic status, health-related quality of life (SF-12) and various markers of disease severity (comorbidity, falls, late presentation and AIDS diagnosis). Regression analyses were applied to determine the impact of SES on HRQOL after adjusting for disease severity variables.
The mental and physical subscales of the SF-12, comorbidity burden and falls were significantly related to SES. SES explained 7% of the variance in PCS scores and 3% of the variance in MCS scores after adjusting for age and time since diagnosis. Markers of disease severity explained 33% of the variance in PCS scores and 14% of the variance in MCS scores. After adjusting for disease severity SES was still significantly related to PCS and MCS scores.
The diverse sample of people aging with HIV showed social inequalities regarding HRQOL and most of the disease severity markers. SES was significantly related to mental and physical HRQOL after adjusting for disease severity. Possible explanations for this phenomenon are discussed.