Lifestyles and social class: implications for primary care.
Data from the Oxford healthy life survey were used to explore social class variations in beliefs about the determinants of health, willingness to contemplate behaviour change and experience of lifestyle advice in primary care.While the association between lifestyle factors and health was well-recognized by all social groups, those in social classes 1 and 2 were more likely than others to stress the importance of smoking, diet and exercise, while those in social classes 4 and 5 were more likely than middle class people to emphasize the effect of socioeconomic influences on health such as unemployment, income, pollution and housing. Members of all social classes attributed considerable importance to psychosocial influences on health. In all social classes a substantial proportion of overweight people expressed a desire to reduce their weight, smokers to modify their smoking habits and sedentary people to increase the amount of exercise they took. However, there was less interest in dietary change or reduction of alcohol consumption. One third of the smokers and of those who were overweight had received advice from health professionals about behaviour modification, but less than 10% of those in the other risk groups reported receiving advice. There was a high demand for advice on health; 44% of all respondents said they would be interested in receiving advice on a healthier lifestyle.