Professional care seeking for mental health problems among women and men in Europe: the role of socioeconomic, family-related and mental health status factors in explaining gender differences
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This comparative study examines cross-national variation in gender differences in primary and specialized mental health care use in Europe. We investigate to what extent socioeconomic, family-related, and mental health factors explain the gender difference, and how the impact of these groups of determinants on gender differences in mental health care use varies between countries.
Data from the Eurobarometer 248 (2005–2006) for 29 European countries is used and country-specific logistic regression analyses are performed.
Gender differences in professional care seeking are largely need based. In almost one-third of the countries examined, the gender difference is mainly attributable to women’s poorer mental health status. However, in some countries, family and socioeconomic characteristics also have an independent contribution to the gender difference in mental health care use. Women’s higher likelihood of a lower socioeconomic position, might partly explain their higher primary care use, while in some countries, it restricts their specialized care use. In addition, some social conditions, as having children and being widowed, seem to function in a few countries as suppressors of women’s care use.
Our study has shown that the gender difference in mental health care use, with women having a higher care use, is not a consistent European phenomenon and is dependent on the type of care provider, with greater gender inequity in the use of primary health care. The social roles adopted by men and women have in some countries on top of the mental health status a relevant influence on the greater tendency among women to contact a care provider. How the socioeconomic and family characteristics moderate the relation between gender and mental health care use is not straightforward and country dependent.
KeywordsGender differences Primary and specialized mental health care use Cross-national variation Family characteristics Socioeconomic characteristics
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