IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Gender roles, illness orientation and use of medical services


  • Hibbard, Judith H.
  • Pope, Clyde R.


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hibbard, Judith H. & Pope, Clyde R., 1983. "Gender roles, illness orientation and use of medical services," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 129-137, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:17:y:1983:i:3:p:129-137

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ruth Hancock & Marcello Morciano & Stephen Pudney & Francesca Zantomio, 2015. "Do household surveys give a coherent view of disability benefit targeting?: a multisurvey latent variable analysis for the older population in Great Britain," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 178(4), pages 815-836, October.
    2. Caroli, Eve & Weber-Baghdiguian, Lexane, 2016. "Self-reported health and gender: The role of social norms," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 220-229.
    3. Quan-Hoang Vuong, 2017. "Psychological gender differences in general health examinations: evidence from a 2016 Vietnamese cross-section dataset," Working Papers CEB 17-005, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    4. Guallar-Castillón, Pilar & Redondo Sendino, Áurea & Banegas, José R. & López-García, Esther & Rodríguez-Artalejo, Fernando, 2005. "Differences in quality of life between women and men in the older population of Spain," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(6), pages 1229-1240, March.
    5. Dahlin, Johanna & Härkönen, Juho, 2013. "Cross-national differences in the gender gap in subjective health in Europe: Does country-level gender equality matter?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 24-28.
    6. Jessie Fan & Ming Wen & Lei Jin & Guixin Wang, 2013. "Disparities in Healthcare Utilization in China: Do Gender and Migration Status Matter?," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 52-63, March.
    7. repec:taf:oabmxx:v:2:y:2015:i:1:p:1024926 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:17:y:1983:i:3:p:129-137. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.