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Do women consult more than men? A review of gender and consultation for back pain and headache.

Hunt K, Adamson J, Hewitt C, Nazareth I - J Health Serv Res Policy (2010)

Bottom Line: Few studies compared consultation patterns for these symptoms among men and women known to have experienced the symptom.Among those with back pain, the odds ratios for women seeking help, compared with men, ranged from 0.6 (95% confidence intervals 0.3, 1.2, adjusted only for age) to 2.17 (95% confidence intervals 1.35, 3.57, unadjusted), although none of the reported odds ratio, below 1.00 was statistically significant.Given the strength of assumptions that women consult more readily for common symptoms, the evidence for greater consultation amongst women for two common symptoms, headache and back pain, was surprisingly weak and inconsistent, especially with respect to back pain.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK. kate@sphsu.mrc.ac.uk

ABSTRACT

Objectives: Because women consult their general practitioners more frequently on average than men, it is commonly assumed that they consult more for all symptoms and conditions. This assumption is reinforced by qualitative studies reporting a widespread reluctance to consult by men. However, few studies directly compare consultation in men and women experiencing similar symptoms or conditions.

Methods: A systematic review of the evidence on gender and consultation for two common symptoms, back pain and headache. Extensive electronic searches identified 15 papers reporting the relationship between gender and help-seeking for back pain and 11 papers for headache. Two independent reviewers assessed articles for inclusion and extracted data from eligible studies.

Results: Few studies compared consultation patterns for these symptoms among men and women known to have experienced the symptom. The quality of the studies was variable. Overall, evidence for greater consultation by women with back pain was weak and inconsistent. Among those with back pain, the odds ratios for women seeking help, compared with men, ranged from 0.6 (95% confidence intervals 0.3, 1.2, adjusted only for age) to 2.17 (95% confidence intervals 1.35, 3.57, unadjusted), although none of the reported odds ratio, below 1.00 was statistically significant. The evidence for women being more likely to consult for headache was a little stronger. Five studies showed a statistically elevated odds ratio, and none suggested that men with headache symptoms were more likely to consult than women with headache symptoms. Limitations to the studies are discussed.

Conclusion: Given the strength of assumptions that women consult more readily for common symptoms, the evidence for greater consultation amongst women for two common symptoms, headache and back pain, was surprisingly weak and inconsistent, especially with respect to back pain.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Scatterplot of association between gender and consultation for headache by period of consultation (ever consulted, consulted in previous 12 months, other time period)
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JHSRP-09-131F3: Scatterplot of association between gender and consultation for headache by period of consultation (ever consulted, consulted in previous 12 months, other time period)

Mentions: Despite this plurality of design, there was more consistent evidence for greater consultation among women with headache symptoms than for men with similar symptoms (Figure 3). None of the 11 publications suggested that men were more likely to consult for headache (i.e. OR < 1.0), five studies suggested a statistically significant positive relationship, and the remaining six reported equivocal relationships between gender and consultation for headache. Two studies with positive relationships were found among the four which considered consultation ‘ever’, one among the four that considered consultation in the previous 12 months, and one in a study reporting experience of symptoms and consultation in the previous three months.


Do women consult more than men? A review of gender and consultation for back pain and headache.

Hunt K, Adamson J, Hewitt C, Nazareth I - J Health Serv Res Policy (2010)

Scatterplot of association between gender and consultation for headache by period of consultation (ever consulted, consulted in previous 12 months, other time period)
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3104816&req=5

JHSRP-09-131F3: Scatterplot of association between gender and consultation for headache by period of consultation (ever consulted, consulted in previous 12 months, other time period)
Mentions: Despite this plurality of design, there was more consistent evidence for greater consultation among women with headache symptoms than for men with similar symptoms (Figure 3). None of the 11 publications suggested that men were more likely to consult for headache (i.e. OR < 1.0), five studies suggested a statistically significant positive relationship, and the remaining six reported equivocal relationships between gender and consultation for headache. Two studies with positive relationships were found among the four which considered consultation ‘ever’, one among the four that considered consultation in the previous 12 months, and one in a study reporting experience of symptoms and consultation in the previous three months.

Bottom Line: Few studies compared consultation patterns for these symptoms among men and women known to have experienced the symptom.Among those with back pain, the odds ratios for women seeking help, compared with men, ranged from 0.6 (95% confidence intervals 0.3, 1.2, adjusted only for age) to 2.17 (95% confidence intervals 1.35, 3.57, unadjusted), although none of the reported odds ratio, below 1.00 was statistically significant.Given the strength of assumptions that women consult more readily for common symptoms, the evidence for greater consultation amongst women for two common symptoms, headache and back pain, was surprisingly weak and inconsistent, especially with respect to back pain.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK. kate@sphsu.mrc.ac.uk

ABSTRACT

Objectives: Because women consult their general practitioners more frequently on average than men, it is commonly assumed that they consult more for all symptoms and conditions. This assumption is reinforced by qualitative studies reporting a widespread reluctance to consult by men. However, few studies directly compare consultation in men and women experiencing similar symptoms or conditions.

Methods: A systematic review of the evidence on gender and consultation for two common symptoms, back pain and headache. Extensive electronic searches identified 15 papers reporting the relationship between gender and help-seeking for back pain and 11 papers for headache. Two independent reviewers assessed articles for inclusion and extracted data from eligible studies.

Results: Few studies compared consultation patterns for these symptoms among men and women known to have experienced the symptom. The quality of the studies was variable. Overall, evidence for greater consultation by women with back pain was weak and inconsistent. Among those with back pain, the odds ratios for women seeking help, compared with men, ranged from 0.6 (95% confidence intervals 0.3, 1.2, adjusted only for age) to 2.17 (95% confidence intervals 1.35, 3.57, unadjusted), although none of the reported odds ratio, below 1.00 was statistically significant. The evidence for women being more likely to consult for headache was a little stronger. Five studies showed a statistically elevated odds ratio, and none suggested that men with headache symptoms were more likely to consult than women with headache symptoms. Limitations to the studies are discussed.

Conclusion: Given the strength of assumptions that women consult more readily for common symptoms, the evidence for greater consultation amongst women for two common symptoms, headache and back pain, was surprisingly weak and inconsistent, especially with respect to back pain.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus