A cohort study into head and neck cancer mortality in Belgium (2001–11): Are individual socioeconomic differences conditional on area deprivation?

Paulien Hagedoorn, Hadewijch Vandenheede, Katrien Vanthomme, Didier Willaert, Sylvie Gadeyne

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26 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study is to assess to what extent individual and area-level socioeconomic position (SEP) are associated to head and neck cancer (HNC) mortality and to what extent they contribute to regional variation in HNC mortality in Belgium.

Materials and methods
Data on men aged 40–64 are collected from a population based dataset based on the 2001 Belgian census linked to register data on emigration and mortality for 2001–2011. Individual SEP is measured using education, employment status and housing conditions. Deprivation at municipal level is measured by a deprivation index. Absolute mortality differences are estimated by age standardised mortality rates. Multilevel Poisson models are used to estimate the association and interaction between HNC mortality and individual and area-level SEP, and to estimate the regional variation in HNC mortality.

HNC mortality rates are significantly higher for men with a low SEP and men living in deprived areas. Cross-level interactions indicate that the association between individual SEP and HNC mortality is conditional on area deprivation. HNC mortality in deprived areas is especially high among high-SEP men. As a result, social disparities appear to be smaller in more deprived areas. Regional variation in HNC mortality was significant. Population composition partially explains this regional variation, while area deprivation and cross-level interactions explains little.

Both individual and area-level deprivation are important determinants of HNC mortality. Underlying trends in incidence and survival, and risk factors, such as alcohol and tobacco use, should be explored further.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-82
Number of pages6
JournalOral Oncology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • Head and neck cancer
  • Mortality
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Area deprivation
  • Regional mortality differences


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