Date Published: 7 July 2011

Leaving school without qualifications associated with poorer health in later life

Health News from Manchester, England (UK).

Students who leave school without any qualifications can expect to suffer from poorer health and greater risk of heart disease than those with some qualifications, according to recent research conducted at Manchester University, England.

However, the study also suggests if the students return to education later on in life they may be able to reduce the health gap with their more educated peers.

Professor Tarani Chandola, of Manchester University, carried out the research on the data of 4,311 British adults born in 1958 for the ESRC-funded International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society and Health. He found that men and women who leave school without any qualifications may be able to 'catch up' with their more qualified peers in terms of a lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Key results from the study include:

  • Around 14% of the adults in the study went on to obtain some qualifications between the ages of 23 and 42.
  • Men who left school without any qualifications had a 4% risk of heart disease in their 50's.
  • Those who left school without any qualifications but who obtained some qualifications later on - such as an 'O' level equivalent ('O'-Levels were replaced by GCSEs from 1988 onwards) - had a lower risk of heart disease of around 3%.
  • The effects were similar, but smaller, women.

Professor Chandola said:

" Health inequalities are a major concern in the UK and elsewhere."

" While there has been a great deal of attention paid to the importance of having a good start in life, we also need to think about what we can do to improve the health of adults who haven't had the best start to their lives."

He added:

" Although this study does not prove that returning to education as an adult automatically improves your health, we do provide some hope to many who leave school without any qualifications."

" Apart from personal, social and economic benefits to returning to education as an adult, there may be health benefits as well."

Research Paper
The paper 'Is adult education associated with reduced coronary heart disease risk?" is published by the International Journal of Epidemiology.


Source: Manchester University, England (UK)

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