Do gender differences in mental health contribute to gender differences in physical health?

Belinda Needham, Terrence D. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated that women and men tend to have different types of mental and physical health problems. Using data from the US National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) of 2001-2003, we consider whether the female excess in internalizing disorders contributes to the female excess in chronic debilitating conditions and whether the male excess in externalizing disorders contributes to the male excess in life threatening conditions. We find that women have significantly higher odds of meeting the DSM-IV criteria for one or more lifetime internalizing disorders and significantly lower odds of meeting the DSM-IV criteria for one or more lifetime externalizing disorders. We also find that women have higher odds of reporting four of the ten chronic debilitating conditions examined, including arthritis, frequent or severe headaches, seasonal allergies, and gallbladder removal, and lower odds of reporting three of the six life threatening conditions examined, including stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure. We conclude that the female excess in internalizing disorders partially mediates, or explains, the female excess in arthritis, headaches, and gallbladder removal, while the male excess in externalizing disorders partially accounts for the male excess in heart disease and high blood pressure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1472-1479
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume71
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Gender
  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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