Decreased risk of death from coronary heart disease amongst men with higher 'femininity' scores: a general population cohort study

Hunt, K. , Lewars, H., Emslie, C. and Batty, G.D. (2007) Decreased risk of death from coronary heart disease amongst men with higher 'femininity' scores: a general population cohort study. International Journal of Epidemiology, 36(3), pp. 612-620. (doi:10.1093/ije/dym022)

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Abstract

Context At all ages men have higher rates of coronary heart disease (CHD) than women, although similar proportions of men and women eventually die of CHD. Gender differences in CHD incidence and mortality are often explained in relation to biological (hormonal) and behavioural risk factors (e.g. smoking), but psychological factors and broader social constructions of gender are rarely considered.

Objective To examine the relationship between measures of gender role orientation at baseline in 1988 and mortality from CHD over 17 years (to June 2005).

Design Prospective cohort study linked to national mortality reporting.

Setting Socially varied mainly urban area centred on city of Glasgow in West Central Scotland, UK.

Participants In total, 1551 participants (704 men and 847 women) aged 55 years took part in detailed interviews with nurses trained in survey methods in 1988. These included a wide range of measures of physical development and functioning, self reported health and health behaviour, personal and social circumstances and a measure of gender role orientation (yielding scores for ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’).

Main outcome measures Mortality from CHD up to June 2005 (88 CHD deaths in men; 41 CHD deaths in women).

Results After adjusting for smoking, binge drinking, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, household income and psychological well-being, higher ‘femininity’ scores in men were associated with a lower risk of CHD death (hazards ratio per unit increase in ‘femininity’ score 0.65, 95% CIs 0.48–0.87, P = 0.004). No such relationship was observed amongst women. ‘Masculinity’ scores were unrelated to CHD mortality in either men or women.

Conclusions These results suggest that social constructions of gender influence the risk of ill health, here death from CHD. Men who are less able to identify themselves with characteristics identified as ‘feminine’ or expressive (who have a more limited stereotypically masculine self-image) may be at increased risk of coronary disease. Further research on the link between social constructions of gender and health is needed.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hunt, Professor Kathryn and Emslie, Dr Carol and Batty, Dr G
Authors: Hunt, K., Lewars, H., Emslie, C., and Batty, G.D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:International Journal of Epidemiology
ISSN:0300-5771
ISSN (Online):1464-3685

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