Gender inequalities in health Week 18Sociology of Health and Illness
Recap• Thought about how health and illness are structured by society• Considered the ‘sick role’, medicalisation, surveillance medicine and ‘lay’ understandings of health• Considered different explanations about the impact of social class on health
Outline• Consider the evidence for an association between gender and health• Look at completing explanations – Biological – Social – Structural
Gender Differences• Gender differences in health are often related to the maxim: – Women get sicker but men die quicker• Some evidence of this, but complex picture
Mortality Difference• In the UK, women generally life longer than men (National Statistics online)• Life expectancy at birth: by sex in the UK
Health care usage• More women than men consult their GP National Statistics online 25 Males Females 20• Consultations 15 with an NHS GP 10 by sex and age 5 2001/02 0 0-4 5-15 16-44 45-64 65-74 75 and over
Limiting illness• Other statistics give a different picture National Statistics online• 2001 Census People in private households with a long-term illness
Gender differences• What do you think might account for the different levels of gender differences in the 3 areas: –Mortality –Health care usage –Morbidity
Explaining Gender Differences• There are 3 different groups of explanations: – Biological – Social Roles – Structural factors
Biological Explanations• Biological explanations focus on genetic and physiological differences – Male and female bodies are different• But mortality and morbidity gaps change over time and between places• So this does not see to be a sufficient explanation
Social Roles• The construction of normative ideas about masculinity and femininity has implications for health – Different risk behaviours • Alcohol, smoking • Traffic Accidents major case of young male death – Gendered work • Occupational risks, domestic labour, unregulated markets
• Do you think women and men’s lifestyles and work can account for gendered differences?
Social Roles• Social relationships are also gendered – Women’s responsibility for ‘care’ includes maintaining the family’s health – Women’s roles in the family and community • Older single men more vulnerable to isolation
Social Roles• Gendered roles in reporting – Women and men are socialised to experience bodily sensations differently • Women say how they feel, men report physical sensations – Men may be more reluctant to seek medical advice
• Do you think there are gendered differences in the experiences of bodily sensations?• If so, how might this impact on health?
Social Roles• Gendered diagnosis – Women and men may get different diagnosis • Psychiatric disorder rather than Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Differences found in the prescription of drugs – Differences found in treatment
Patriarchal medicine?• Women’s bodies are deemed to be inherently pathological – Defined by their unstable reproductive bodies• The medicalisation of menstruation, pregnancy and menopause leads to higher health care usage – Removing appointments related to reproduction evens out the statistics
Structural factors• Material circumstances make a different to health outcomes• Differences between men and women – Power and resources in the home can leave women disadvantaged• Feminization of poverty – Differences between women – Intersection with social class
Summary• Considered the relationship between gender and health• Gendered roles and relationships have an important impact on health• This intersects with other areas of social disadvantage
Next week• Continue to consider health inequalities by focusing on ethnicity• Look at explanations for ethnic differences and experiences of health patterns• What impact does racism have?