A Mayo Clinic study published in the American Journal of Health Behavior investigates differences in how men and women perceive their own health. The study finds that confidence in maintaining good health habits can be influenced by gender.
Mayo Clinic study investigates differences in how men and women perceive their own health
Men reported higher levels of physical activity and greater confidence in their ability to remain physically active, according to the study, which surveyed 2,784 users at the Mayo Clinic Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center, an employee wellness center. Men and women had comparable levels of confidence that they would maintain a healthy diet.
“Our findings suggest that confidence in maintaining health habits can be influenced by gender and also depends on which specific habit is being assessed – physical activity, for example, versus diet. This is important information to keep in mind when designing wellness programs, to maximize their utilization and impact on employee health and wellness,” said Richa Sood, M.D., Mayo Clinic internist, and co-author and designer of the study
To learn more about possible gender-specific factors for under utilization of employee wellness centers, researchers distributed surveys to 11,427 wellness center users, 2,784 of whom responded with complete data. Of the respondents, 68% were women, and the mean age was 49.
Survey asked questions about users’ health status
The survey asked questions about users’ health status and select health conditions, confidence in maintaining healthy habits, and stress level and social interactions. Men and women reported comparable levels of stress and support for healthy living, according to the study. More men reported having hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and tobacco use than women. Nonetheless, there was no significant gender difference in perception of personal health.
‘Surprised by the finding’
“We were surprised by the finding that men felt they were as healthy as women despite having more medical problems,” Dr. Sood says.
Women had lower self-reported levels of physical activity and lower confidence that they would maintain that activity.
Difference may have cultural roots because gender has been shown to influence this
“This difference may have cultural roots because gender has been shown to influence self-efficacy, particularly for physical activity,” says Dr. Sood. “Our study shows that self-efficacy is domain-dependent and can’t be generalized as a gender-specific trait. But understanding gender differences among working adults can help optimize employee wellness services.”
Despite the availability
Despite the availability of employee wellness centers across the country, the services typically are underused, according to the study. Incorporating gender-specific elements in the design and programming of wellness centers can improve their use, enhance wellness and indirectly reduce health care costs.
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review, which has been in print since 2005, and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on social media: Find her on Facebook at Razi Berry, on Instagram at Razi.Berry, join her Love is Medicine group to explore the convergence of love and health, and find more Love is Medicine podcast episodes here.