The objectives of this study are to analyze the associations between educational levels and poor self-rated health (SRH) among adults in Brazil and to assess trends in the prevalence of poor self-rated health across educational groups between 1998 and 2013. Individual-level data came from the 1998, 2003 and 2008 Brazilian National Household Survey and the 2013 National Health Survey. We estimate prevalence rates of poor SRH by education. Using multivariable regressions, we assess the associations between educational levels and poor self-rated health. We use these regressions to predict the estimated ratios between the prevalence rates of those in low vs. high education in order to assess if relative changes in poor SRH have narrowed over time. Finally, we tested for statistically significant time trends in adult chronic disease inequalities by education. Results indicate a clear educational gradient in poor SRH. Prevalence ratios show that Brazilian adults with no education have levels of poor SRH that are 7 to 9 times higher than those with some college or more. The difference between those with lowest and highest education increased from 1998 to 2013. Compared to those with no education, there were increases in the prevalence of poor SRH among those with primary and secondary incomplete as well as among those with secondary complete in 2008 and 2013. In conclusion, there is a positive association between poor SRH and low education. Brazil has many social and geographic inequalities in health. Even though educational levels are increasing, there is no improvement in the general subjective health of Brazilians. Health inequalities by race and region highlight the need to improve the health of socially disadvantaged groups in Brazil. Addressing chronic conditions and mental health is needed to improve self-perceptions of health in Brazil as well.
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