Social patterning of acute respiratory illnesses in the Household Influenza Vaccine Evaluation (HIVE) Study 2014–2015


Social patterning of infectious diseases is increasingly recognised. Previous studies of social determinants of acute respiratory illness (ARI) have found that highly educated and lower income families experience more illnesses. Subjective social status (SSS) has also been linked to symptomatic ARI, but the association may be confounded by household composition. We examined SSS and ARI in the Household Influenza Vaccine Evaluation (HIVE) Study in 2014–2015. We used SSS as a marker of social disadvantage and created a workplace disadvantage score for working adults. We examined the association between these measures and ARI incidence using mixed-effects Poisson regression models with random intercepts to account for household clustering. In univariate analyses, mean ARI was higher among children <5 years old (P < 0.001), and females (P = 0.004) at the individual level. At the household level, mean ARI was higher for households with at least one child <5 years than for those without (P = 0.002). In adjusted models, individuals in the lowest tertile of SSS had borderline significantly higher rates of ARI than those in the highest tertile (incidence rate ratio (IRR) 1.34, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.98–1.92). Households in the lowest tertile of SSS had significantly higher ARI incidence in household-level models (IRR 1.46, 95% CI 1.05–2.03). We observed no association between workplace disadvantage and ARI. We detected an increase in the incidence of ARI for households with low SSS compared with those with high SSS, suggesting that socio-economic position has a meaningful impact on ARI incidence.

Epidemiology and Infection
Jon Zelner
Jon Zelner
Associate Professor