Area-based measures of socioeconomic position (SEP) suitable for epidemiological research are lacking in Switzerland. Therefore, we developed the Swiss neighbourhood index of SEP (Swiss-SEP).
We defined neighbourhoods of 50 households with overlapping boundaries using Census 2000 and road network data. Median rent per square metre, proportion households headed by a person with primary education or less, proportion headed by a person in manual or unskilled occupation and the mean number of persons per room were analysed in principle component analysis.
We developed the Swiss-SEP index using a novel approach to define neighbourhoods. The index will be useful for clinical- and population-based studies, where individual-level socioeconomic data are often missing, and to investigate the effects on health of the socioeconomic characteristics of a place.