Measuring socioeconomic inequalities in relation to malaria risk : a comparison of metrics in rural Uganda.
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AbstractSocioeconomic position (SEP) is an important risk factor for malaria, but there is no consensus on how to measure SEP in malaria studies. We evaluated the relative strength of four indicators of SEP in predicting malaria risk in Nagongera, Uganda. A total of 318 children resident in 100 households were followed for 36 months to measure parasite prevalence routinely every 3 months and malaria incidence by passive case detection. Household SEP was determined using: 1) two wealth indices, 2) income, 3) occupation, and 4) education. Wealth Index I (reference) included only asset ownership variables. Wealth Index II additionally included food security and house construction variables, which may directly affect malaria. In multivariate analysis, only Wealth Index II and income were associated with the human biting rate, only Wealth Indices I and II were associated with parasite prevalence, and only caregiver's education was associated with malaria incidence. This is the first evaluation of metrics beyond wealth and consumption indices for measuring the association between SEP and malaria. The wealth index still predicted malaria risk after excluding variables directly associated with malaria, but the strength of association was lower. In this setting, wealth indices, income, and education were stronger predictors of socioeconomic differences in malaria risk than occupation.