Health statistics demonstrate that morbidity (sickness) and mortality (death) rates for specific diseases and other health issues (e.g., violence, accidents, homicide) are different for men and women. For example, men are diagnosed with and die from specific cancers, such as lung cancer and colon cancer, at higher rates than women do. Women are diagnosed with breast cancer at higher rates than men (though more than 1,000 men each year are diagnosed with breast cancer). While this difference in disease and disorder prevalence and mortality is interesting, it would be useful to know why there are differences between men and women.
Biological differences between men and women in areas such as hormones and immune response certainly can contribute to health differences between the sexes, but in order to fully explore their causes, other variables must be examined. An important area to consider when looking at health and gender is behavior. That is, do men and women behave differently when it comes to health? Health-related behaviors fall into two basic categories: preventative behaviors and direct health-related behaviors. For example, seeing a physician for an annual check-up and health screening, eating well, exercising, and maintaining low stress levels are preventative behaviors. Engaging in high-risk sports and smoking are direct health-related behaviors. Gender differences in health behaviors must be interpreted carefully. For example, frequency of doctor visits—which is higher among women—should not necessarily be interpreted as a reliable indicator of higher morbidity in women, since women tend to engage in more preventative health behaviors.
A second group of variables related to gender differences in health issues is made up of the confounding variables that your text refers to as artifacts. These include physician bias and how the health care system treats men and women. For example, men and women are screened differently, diagnosed differently, and treated differently for many health problems. It also includes differences in socioeconomic status, such as education and income, that correspond to health outcomes.
Lastly, gender differences in social roles may contribute to health differences. Physically demanding careers held more often by men may lead to greater health risks such as job-related injury. On the other hand, women’s traditional role as family caretaker can also lead to health risks such as poor self-care and fatigue.
For this Discussion, you will analyze gender-related differences in physical health for a specific health issue of your choosing. You will not only explore its incidence and causes, but will also share potential strategies to mitigate risk.
· Review this week’s Learning Resources, focusing on the gender-related differences and similarities in issues related to health.
· Select a physical health issue that interests you that has gender-related differences, and research this health issue using the Walden Library and other reputable academic sources.
· Search the literature for effective strategies to mitigate the risk of the health issue.
Reading for this week, and please review this week’s readings and try to incorporate in your answer.
Helgeson, V. S. (2017). Psychology of gender (5th ed.). New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.
- Chapter 10, “Sex Differences in Health: Evidence and Explanations” (pp. 438–489)
- Chapter 11, “Relationships and Health” (pp. 503–559)
Mars vs. Venus: The gender gap in health. (2010, January). Harvard Men’s Health Watch, 14(6), 1–5. Retrieved from the MEDLINE with Full Text database (Accession No. 20464795).