The burden of infectious intestinal disease (IID) in the UK is substantial. Negative consequences including sickness absence are common, but little is known about the social patterning of these outcomes, or the extent to which they relate to disease severity.
We performed a cross-sectional analysis using IID cases identified from a large population-based survey, to explore the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and symptom severity and sickness absence; and to assess the role of symptom severity on the relationship between SES and absence. Regression modelling was used to investigate these associations, whilst controlling for potential confounders such as age, sex and ethnicity.
Among 1164 cases, those of lower SES versus high had twice the odds of experiencing severe symptoms (OR 2.2, 95%CI;1.66–2.87). Lower SES was associated with higher odds of sickness absence (OR 1.8, 95%CI;1.26–2.69), however this association was attenuated after adjusting for symptom severity (OR 1.4, 95%CI;0.92–2.07).
In a large sample of IID cases, those of low SES versus high were more likely to report severe symptoms, and sickness absence; with greater severity largely explaining the higher absence. Public health interventions are needed to address the unequal consequences of IID identified.