Gender roles, illness orientation and use of medical services
The study investigates illness orientation as a factor which may account for sex differences in the utilization of medical care. First, sex differences in the way symptoms are perceived, evaluated and acted upon (illness orientation) are analyzed. Then, gender role factors which may account for sex differences in illness orientation are examined. Finally, the degree to which gender role factors and illness orientation account for sex differences in medical care utilization are assessed. The study population includes 1648 adults between the ages of 18 and 59. Medical record data covering 7 years of outpatient services are linked with survey data on the respondents. The findings show that while females are more likely to perceive symptoms than males, there is no apparent sex difference in a tendency to adopt the sick role when ill. In addition, results indicate that gender role factors such as level and type of role responsibility and concern with health are related to female though not male symptom reports. Illness orientation variables are related to rates of medical utilization for both sexes. However, it is primarily the perception of symptoms and an interest and concern with health which contributes to sex differences in utilization rates. When examining respondents who report either a very low or very high number of symptoms, sex differences in utilization rates fall below statistical significance.
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Volume (Year): 17 (1983)
Issue (Month): 3 (January)
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