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Gender differences in health: a Canadian study of the psychosocial, structural and behavioural determinants of health

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  • Denton, Margaret
  • Prus, Steven
  • Walters, Vivienne
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    Abstract

    Gender-based inequalities in health have been frequently documented. This paper examines the extent to which these inequalities reflect the different social experiences and conditions of men's and women's lives. We address four specific questions. Are there gender differences in mental and physical health? What is the relative importance of the structural, behavioural and psychosocial determinants of health? Are the gender differences in health attributable to the differing structural (socio-economic, age, social support, family arrangement) context in which women and men live, and to their differential exposure to lifestyle (smoking, drinking, exercise, diet) and psychosocial (critical life events, stress, psychological resources) factors? Are gender differences in health also attributable to gender differences in vulnerability to these structural, behavioural and psychosocial determinants of health? Multivariate analyses of Canadian National Population Health Survey data show gender differences in health (measured by self-rated health, functional health, chronic illness and distress). Social structural and psychosocial determinants of health are generally more important for women and behavioural determinants are generally more important for men. Gender differences in exposure to these forces contribute to inequalities in health between men and women, however, statistically significant inequalities remain after controlling for exposure. Gender-based health inequalities are further explained by differential vulnerabilities to social forces between men and women. Our findings suggest the value of models that include a wide range of health and health-determinant variables, and affirm the importance of looking more closely at gender differences in health.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 58 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 12 (June)
    Pages: 2585-2600

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:58:y:2004:i:12:p:2585-2600

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    Keywords: Canada Health determinants Health inequalities Gender;

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    Cited by:
    1. Likwang Chen & Winnie Yip & Ming-Cheng Chang & Hui-Sheng Lin & Shyh-Dye Lee & Ya-Ling Chiu & Yu-Hsuan Lin, 2007. "The effects of Taiwan's National Health Insurance on access and health status of the elderly," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(3), pages 223-242.
    2. Hung-Hao Chang & Rodolfo Nayga & Kung-Chi Chan, 2011. "Gendered Analyses of Nutrient Deficiencies Among the Elderly," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 268-279, June.
    3. Karen M. Kobayashi & Steven Prus, 2007. "Explaining the Health Gap Between Canadian- and Foreign-Born Older Adults: Findings from the 2000/2001 Canadian Community Health Survey," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers, McMaster University 211, McMaster University.
    4. García-Calvente, Mar & Marcos-Marcos, Jorge & del Río-Lozano, María & Hidalgo-Ruzzante, Natalia & Maroto-Navarro, Gracia, 2012. "Embedded gender and social changes underpinning inequalities in health: An ethnographic insight into a local Spanish context," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 75(12), pages 2225-2232.
    5. Kirsi Talala & Taina Huurre & Hillevi Aro & Tuija Martelin & Ritva Prättälä, 2008. "Socio-demographic Differences in Self-reported Psychological Distress Among 25- to 64-Year-Old Finns," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 86(2), pages 323-335, April.
    6. Christian Kroll, 2011. "Different Things Make Different People Happy: Examining Social Capital and Subjective Well-Being by Gender and Parental Status," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 104(1), pages 157-177, October.
    7. Chiara Rollero & Silvia Gattino & Norma De Piccoli, 2014. "A Gender Lens on Quality of Life: The Role of Sense of Community, Perceived Social Support, Self-Reported Health and Income," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 116(3), pages 887-898, May.

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