Do women 'over- report' morbidity? Men's and women's responses to structured prompting on a standard question on long standing illness

Macintyre, S., Ford, G. and Hunt, K. (1999) Do women 'over- report' morbidity? Men's and women's responses to structured prompting on a standard question on long standing illness. Social Science and Medicine, 48(1), pp. 89-98. (doi:10.1016/S0277-9536(98)00292-5)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0277-9536(98)00292-5

Abstract

It is frequently observed in contemporary industrialised societies that although women live longer than men, they are sicker than men in that they report higher rates of morbidity, disability and health care use. One common element of the explanation for women's higher rates of morbidity is that there are gender differences in the way that symptoms are perceived, evaluated and acted upon. It is widely assumed that women will be more ready to report illness and to seek help and that they have greater flexibility in their lives to accommodate illness. The few studies that have examined men and women with the same conditions or symptoms are contradictory, but lend little support to this hypothesised greater propensity, yet it is still widely believed. Here we compare men's and women's answers to a global, commonly used question about chronic illness and to a series of more specific prompts and classify the conditions reported by an externally defined categorisation of severity and International Classification of Disease chapter. Contrary to the common expectation that women report higher rates of morbidity and are more ready to report mental health problems, we found: no gender differences in the initial reporting of conditions; men reported a higher proportion of their conditions in response to the initial global question; and no evidence that women were more likely to report `trivial' or mental health conditions in response to the initial question.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hunt, Professor Kate and Macintyre, Professor Sally
Authors: Macintyre, S., Ford, G., and Hunt, K.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Social Science and Medicine
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0277-9536
ISSN (Online):1873-5347
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