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Sex differences in health effects of family death or illness: are women more vulnerable than men?

Vahtera, Jussi; Kivimäki, Mika; Väänänen, Ari; Linna, Anne; Pentti, Jaana; Helenius, Hans; Elovainio, Marko; (2006) Sex differences in health effects of family death or illness: are women more vulnerable than men? Psychosomatic Medicine , 68 (2) pp. 283-291.

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Abstract

Objective: To study sex differences in health after stressful life events in the family. Method: We examined the association between a serious event (death or severe illness of spouse, death or severe illness of other family member, death of close relative) and health among 6,095 male and 21,217 female public sector employees in Finland by repeated measures Poisson regression analysis with the generalized estimating equations method. The longitudinal data comprised self-reports of 3,556 events and their timing in 2000 or 2001, monthly sickness absences between 1997 and 2003, and psychiatric morbidity and suboptimal health 0 to 3 months, 4 to 6 months, or 7 to 12 months after the event. Adjustments were made for age, education, and marital status. Results: Exposure to stressful events was associated with a greater increase in sickness absence and a longer recovery period among women than among men. For the women, death or illness in the family was also associated with self-reported health problems irrespective of the time lag between the event and the measurement of health, whereas for the men, this association was found only in the first months after the event. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that women are more vulnerable than men in the aftermath of a death or illness in their extended family.

Type: Article
Title: Sex differences in health effects of family death or illness: are women more vulnerable than men?
Identifier: PMID: 16554395
Publisher version: http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/cgi/content/a...
Language: English
Keywords: Sex, life event, sickness absence, health, vulnerability, recovery
UCL classification: 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/5518
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