Half of the people in Scotland believe that poorer health is a result of an unjust society and at least two-thirds think that housing, working conditions, genetic factors, not having learned to make healthy choices, and being poor are reasons why some people have poorer health than others. This is according to findings published today by the Scottish Centre for National Research

The report ‘Scottish Social Attitudes - Public Attitudes to Inequality’ (external website), commissioned by NHS Health Scotland, reveals the extent to which people are aware of existing health and income inequalities and how views on the potential causes differ by a range of socio-demographic factors such as gender, education, income and area deprivation.

Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) found that seven in ten (71 per cent) perceive those with more money to be better able to live healthy lives with a similar proportion (72 per cent) feeling that those living in better off areas tend to be healthier than those living in worse off areas. However, despite the majority recognising these health differences, only 48 per cent of people in Scotland register this as a big problem.  Around two-thirds (67 per cent) see a strong match between lower incomes and injustice in our society with only a minority (17 per cent) resolutely disagreeing.

Commenting on the report, Dr Andrew Fraser, Director of Public Health Science said:

“We have an abundance of scientific evidence about what causes health inequalities. We know that is fundamentally an issue of inequalities in income, wealth and power, which lead to an unequal distribution of health-protecting and health-harming factors across Scotland.  The reality of this is that some of us experience worse health outcomes than others through no fault of our own but rather as a result of where we were born and the conditions in which we live.

The scientific evidence is clear. But this is the first time that a study has been conducted specifically asking what the Scottish public thinks about health inequalities.  We now have a much greater understanding of the attitudes and opinions of people in Scotland.  This is important as it will help initiatives be designed based both on what the scientific evidence says will work and what the Scottish public is likely to support.”