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Gender differences in minor morbidity among full time employees of a British university.
  1. C Emslie,
  2. K Hunt,
  3. S Macintyre
  1. MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow.


    STUDY OBJECTIVE: To examine gender differences in minor morbidity among men and women working in similar circumstances, and to test whether the relation between reported working conditions and health is similar for men and women. DESIGN: Multivariate analysis of data collected from a postal questionnaire distributed to full time employees in white collar jobs within a single organisation. SETTING: A British university. PARTICIPANTS: 1641 employees (1009 men and 632 women) working full time in white collar occupations in the university. MAIN RESULTS: Overall, female university employees reported more "physical" symptoms (2.0 v 1.7, p < 0.001) and more "malaise" symptoms (1.4 v 1.1, p < 0.001) than male employees, but mean scores on a measure of minor psychiatric morbidity did not differ by gender. Poor perceived working conditions (and particularly lack of job stimulation, job drain and poor physical conditions) were consistently related to all three measures of minor morbidity, and these variables accounted for most of the variance in these health measures in this sample. When the analysis controlled for occupational grade, perceived working conditions and orientation to gender roles, there was no difference between men and women for any of the health measures. The relations for the predictor variables were generally the same for men and women (and there were no interactions with gender for any of the work related variables). CONCLUSIONS: Although small gender differences in recent experience of malaise and physical symptoms remain when examining men and women in as similar working circumstances as possible, these differences are cumulatively eroded by taking account of occupational grade, reported working conditions and orientation to gender. These results lend support to a differential exposure, rather than a differential vulnerability, model of gender differences in health.

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