A Spanish study found women were more likely than men to suffer from chronic muscular pain, mental disorders like depression and arthritis (posed)
It is common knowledge that women dash to the doctor when they fall ill while men drag their feet.

But this assumption has been undermined by a study that found women may report more illnesses because they actually are sick more often.

Scientists led by Davide Malmusi, of the Public Health Agency of Barcelona, found women did report health problems more often. However, they also suffered from a higher rate of chronic diseases.

They said this disproved the theory women tend to over-report health problems or pay more attention to their symptoms than men.

Writing in the latest European Journal of Public Health, they said: ‘These results suggest that the poorer self-rated health of women is a reflection of the higher burden of disease they suffer.’

The researchers looked at data from Spain’s 2006 National Health Survey, which included interviews with 29,000 people who covered a wide age-range on how they rated their health.

They found 38.8 per cent of women said their health was poor or very poor with 25.7 per cent saying a chronic condition limited their activity. This compared to 27 per cent of men who said they had poor health and 19.3 per cent reporting a chronic condition.

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However, researchers found this gender difference disappeared when they matched how many chronic conditions each person had with their health rating.

Women were no more likely than men to claim to have poorer health than men when they had the same condition. Women were actually more likely to report better health than men when they had the same number of conditions.

Women were more likely to suffer from arthritis, mental disorders and muscular problems.

The researchers concluded: ‘A health system responsive to gender inequalities should increase its efforts in addressing and resolving musculoskeletal, mental and other pain disorders, usually less considered in favour of disorders with greater impact on mortality.’

Speaking to the Mail Online, Mr Malmusi said his study didn’t look at the reasons behind why women suffered from more chronic conditions.

However, he said other research suggested it was ‘because of inequalities in the access to resources, prestige, and social roles between men and women.’

He added: ‘There are studies that show that differences between the health status of women and men can be explained by differences in their household income or income source.

‘Women are also undergoing more pressure about their body image, and most importantly they are expected to take care of their children and parents and care for their own wellbeing and self-fulfilment generally falls behind.’

Mr Malmusi said the team are now starting a European project that will study the impact that government policies can make in areas such as welfare, the labour market and urban planning on the health of men and women.

SOURCE: Daily Mail

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