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Men, women use mental health services differently

Date:
June 26, 2014
Source:
St. Michael's Hospital
Summary:
Women with chronic physical illnesses are more likely to use mental health services than men with similar illnesses. Research shows that they also seek out mental health services six months earlier than those same men. "Chronic physical illness can lead to depression," said the lead author. "We want to better understand who will seek mental health services when diagnosed with a chronic physical illness so we can best help those who need care."

Women with chronic physical illnesses are more likely to use mental health services than men with similar illnesses; they also seek out mental health services six months earlier than those same men, according to new study from St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

"Chronic physical illness can lead to depression," said Dr. Flora Matheson, a scientist in the hospital's Centre for Research on Inner City Health. "We want to better understand who will seek mental health services when diagnosed with a chronic physical illness so we can best help those who need care."

The findings, published today in the British Medical Journal's Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, looked at people diagnosed with at least one of four physical illnesses: diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Researchers found that among those with at least one of these four illnesses, women were 10 per cent more likely to use mental health services than men. Furthermore, within any three-year period, women with physical illness used medical services for mental health treatment six months earlier than men.

"Our results don't necessarily mean that more focus should be paid to women, however," said Dr. Matheson, who is also an adjunct scientist at ICES. "We still need more research to understand why this gender divide exists."

The results may imply that women are more comfortable seeking mental health support than men. Alternatively, the gender discrepancy might mean that symptoms are worse among women, requiring more women to seek help and sooner, or that men defer seeking treatment for mental health concerns.

The study used data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, physician claims and inpatient medical records from ICES. Mental illness service use was defined as one visit to a physician or specialist for mental health reasons, such as depression, anxiety, smoking addiction or marital difficulties.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by St. Michael's Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Flora I Matheson et al. Physical health and gender as risk factors for usage of services for mental illness. British Medical Journal's Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, June 2014 DOI: 10.1136/jech-2014-203844

Cite This Page:

St. Michael's Hospital. "Men, women use mental health services differently." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140626101658.htm>.
St. Michael's Hospital. (2014, June 26). Men, women use mental health services differently. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140626101658.htm
St. Michael's Hospital. "Men, women use mental health services differently." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140626101658.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

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