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Women?s health in mid-life: life course social roles and agencyas quality

McMunn, A; Bartley, M; Kuh, D; (2006) Women?s health in mid-life: life course social roles and agencyas quality. Social Science and Medicine , 63 (6) pp. 1561-1572. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.03.039. Green open access

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Abstract

Data from a prospective British birth cohort study showed that women who were childless, lone mothers or full-timehomemakers between the ages of 26 and 54 were more likely to report poor health at age 54 than women who occupiedmultiple roles between these ages. To explain this finding we developed and tested a theory of role quality based on theconcept of agency by drawing on Giddens? theory of structuration and Doyal and Gough?s theory of human needs.According to our theory, the patriarchal structuration (drawing on Giddens? term) of work and family roles provides bothlimitation and opportunity for the expression of agency. Doyal and Gough?s theory of human needs was then used toidentify the restriction of agency as a possible influence on health. This theory of role quality was operationalised using ameasure of work (paid and unpaid) quality at age 36 and a measure of work and family stress between ages 48 and 54. Therelatively poor subjective health in mid-life of lone mothers was explained by work and family stress and adult social class.In contrast, the poor health in mid-life of long-term homemakers and childless women was less easily explained.Homemaker?s excess risk of reporting poor health at age 54 remained strong and significant even after adjusting for rolequality and socioeconomic indicators, and childless women were at an increased risk of reporting poor health despite thesocial advantage inherent in attaining educational qualifications and occupying professional or managerial occupations.This study highlights the need to develop measures of role quality specifically designed to capture agency aspects of socialroles.

Type: Article
Title: Women?s health in mid-life: life course social roles and agencyas quality
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.03.039
Additional information: Imported via OAI, 7:29:01 22nd Dec 2006
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1842
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