Male and female health problems in general practice: the differential impact of social position and social roles

Soc Sci Med. 1995 Mar;40(5):597-611. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(94)e0107-4.


Sex, social position and social roles have been identified as important health predictors. Moreover, various social variables have been found to bear differently upon female as compared to male health. This study analyses data from a large-scale registration project in general practice (the Continuous Morbidity Registration), pertaining to the medical diagnoses of nearly 10,000 patients over a five year period. The effects of sex, social class, marital and parental status on a number of distinct categories of health problems were established, and a possible differential impact of social position and social roles on male and female health was explored. Categories of health problems studied were 'overall health problems', 'sex specific conditions', 'symptoms without disease', 'prevention and diagnostics' and 'trauma'. Sex and, above all, social class were identified as important predictors of most categories of health problems, especially during the reproductive period of life. Marital status and parental status did not contribute substantially to most types of health problems. Rates of prevention and diagnostics, sex specific conditions and total number of health problems could to a certain extent be predicted by the four sociodemographic variables, as opposed to trauma rates and symptoms without disease rates. Social class appeared the only variable with a substantially different effect on male vs female rates of sex specific conditions, prevention and diagnostics and trauma, but not so for overall health problems and symptoms without disease. Marital status and parental status did not differ significantly in their effect on male vs female health. Results illustrate that differentiation of the health variable into categories of health problems elucidates the relationship between sex, social variables and health.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family Characteristics
  • Family Practice*
  • Female
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Parenting
  • Registries
  • Role
  • Sex*
  • Social Class*