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J Epidemiol Community Health 66:271-276 doi:10.1136/jech.2010.109231
  • Research report

Is gender inequality in the domestic sphere associated with psychological distress among women and men? Results from the Northern Swedish Cohort

  1. Anne Hammarström1,4
  1. 1Family Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Family Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
  2. 2National Graduate School for Gender Studies at Umeå Centre for Gender Studies, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
  3. 3Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Medical Rehabilitation, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
  4. 4Umeå Centre for Gender Studies in Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Lisa Harryson, Family Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, 901 85 Umeå, Sweden; lisa.harryson{at}fammed.umu.se
  • Accepted 2 September 2010
  • Published Online First 12 October 2010

Abstract

Aim The aim of this study was to analyse whether gender inequality in the domestic sphere was associated with psychological distress among women and men.

Methods In a cohort study, all pupils in the last year of compulsory school in a middle-sized industrial town in northern Sweden were followed until the age of 42. For this study a sample of cohabiting participants (n=372 women, 352 men) was selected. Gender inequality was measured as perceptions of gender inequality in the couple relationship, time spent on household work, responsibility for domestic work and childcare, and was analysed in relation to psychological distress, after taking possible background variables as well as earlier health status into account.

Results In the multivariate analyses, perception of gender inequality in the couple relationship was associated with psychological distress for both women (OR 2.23, CI 1.20 to 4.18) and men (OR 3.51, CI 1.69 to 7.31). For women only, taking whole responsibility for domestic work was associated with the outcome (OR 2.17, CI 1.05 to 4.48). For men, taking less than half of the responsibility for domestic work was associated with psychological distress (OR 2.25, CI 1.24 to 3.91).

Conclusions Gender inequality in the domestic sphere seems to be an important determinant of psychological distress for both women and men.

Footnotes

  • Funding Financial support was provided by the Swedish Council for Social Research, Box 2220, 103 15 Stockholm, Sweden and the National Graduate School for Gender Studies at Umeå Centre for Gender Studies, Umeå University, 901 87 Umeå, Sweden.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the Regional Ethical Review Board in Umeå, Sweden.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.