Professor Sally Macintyre in the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow analysed responses from 466 women and 353 men, aged 25, 45, and 65, to a questionnaire that asked whether they thought men or women (or both equally) were more likely to have heart disease, cancer, mental illness and accidents, to be fit and to live longer.
The research provides insights about gender identity and difference. They found that each gender tends to think risks are higher for their own sex than for the other gender. Previous studies suggest that lay people and health professionals operate on stereotypes about the gender patterning of certain types of health problem and health behaviour. For example, coronary heart disease tends to be perceived as a 'male disease' even though it is the leading cause of mortality amongst women in the UK. (One study found that 30 year old women with chest pain were much less likely than 30 year old men to be given a cardiac diagnosis, much more likely to be given a psychiatric diagnosis, and around seven times more likely to be considered not to need medical treatment).
The University of Glasgow study reveals that when a respondent considered one sex more at risk than the other, men were thought more likely to have accidents and women to have cancer and mental illness. Accidents: 48 per cent of males compared to 37 per cent of females said men were more likely to have accidents; 58 per cent of females chose 'both', compared to 50 per cent of males.
Cancer: around two thirds of both sexes said they believed men and women were 'equally likely' to experience cancer; 12 per cent of male
Source:University of Glasgow