Sex-related health differences associated with income and marital status

Research Activities, May 2012, No. 381

Gender-related differences have been identified for multiple health-related outcomes, such as disease prevalence, mortality, health behaviors, health care use, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). A new study finds that men in the United States have better estimated physical and psychosocial health and less pain than do women. These gender differences were mostly explained by income and marital status. Age, race, and education explained less of the differences, according to the study.

A greater proportion of women (29 vs. 23 percent) were in one of the two lower-income categories (<$20,000, $20,000 to $34,000) and more men than women (81 vs. 69 percent) were married or living with a partner. The magnitude of gender differences varied, with the smallest difference found on pain and the largest on the physical and psychosocial dimensions.

Gender differences in the three health dimensions (physical, psychosocial, and pain) underlying five different preference-based indexes of HRQoL were estimated using structural equation modeling. The findings are based on data from the National Health Measurement Study, a random-digit-dial telephone survey of a national community-dwelling sample of 3,844 adults aged 35 to 89 years. This research was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (T32 HS000046).

See "Gender differences in multiple underlying dimensions of health-related quality of life are associated with sociodemographic and socioeconomic status" by Dasha Cherepanov, Ph.D., Mari Palta, Ph.D., Dennis G. Fryback, Ph.D., and others in the November 2011 Medical Care 49(11), pp. 1021-1030.

Page last reviewed May 2012
Internet Citation: Sex-related health differences associated with income and marital status: Research Activities, May 2012, No. 381. May 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.