Gender Differences

6 Pages   |   1,263 Words

Gender Differences in Seeking Medical Assistance


The aim of this report is to evaluate differences between two genders in terms of seeking medical help. It is known that men were less likely than women to seek medical help and less likely to be admitted to the hospital (Koopman & Lamers, 2007). However, the probability of being transferred to the ER is similar for both genders. Three possible reasons suggested for the above mentioned research findings are:
  • Most men experience the lack of awareness about diseases symptoms
  • Men have an innate tendency to avoid doctors
  • Men perceive visiting doctors as a form of weakness and a complaining behaviour
  • Men feel much more inhibited in seeking medical health pertaining to genitals and reproductive system as compared to women


Women and men have some physical and psychological differences. These can possibly be linked to differences in seeking medical assistance. One fundamental factor pertaining to physical differences is increased tendency for women to consult physicians during pregnancy (Green, Polen & Dickson, 2002). Even when differences in seeking medical assistance during pregnancy are adjusted for, there is still significant difference between genders and behaviour, as well. Women usually ask for help in the initial stage of the disease whereas men mostly delay until a developed stage before they visit doctors which causes their health to get worse, and therefore, difficult to treat. According to G, Tom (2009), skin cancer affects women more than men, but the male death rate caused by this disease is more than women. The underlying reason for this anomaly is that men delay their visit to doctors (BBC news, 2009). The aim of this report is to analyse the data given in order to identify the causes behind this issue and suggest some recommendation.

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The evidence from secondary research analysis gives sheds light on alternative thesis statements mentioned in introduction. Findings from the analysis are multifarious. The fact that men have a lower proportion of getting the disease and a higher percentage of mortality from the disease as compared to women has two implications. The cost of apathetic attitude towards seeking medical assistance has a high social cost. Women have lesser inhibitions in admitting ill health as compared to men. Hypothesis that women are more informed than men regarding ailments and diseases is also supported.

1. Using health services by gender

 According to Australian Bureau of Statistics report of 2011, women were more likely than men to visit a General Practitioner. 87% of women and 75% of men visited GPs in the year 2009 (ABS, 2011). Also, women were more likely than men to be admitted to hospital. 18% of women and 10% of men were admitted to hospital during the same year (ABS, 2011). Interestingly, the percentage of men and women admitted in hospital emergency is the same (ABS, 2011).

2. Differences in proactivity

This exhibits that women are more forthcoming in consulting a doctor when they feel early signs of ill health. This explains the greater percentage among women of visiting a general practitioner. General practitioners are good at recognizing early signs of serious diseases, which causes a greater proportion among women of being admitted to hospital. The alternate explanation that women have a greater likelihood of contracting a disease is nullified because the rate of being admitted to emergency is almost same for both genders. This shows the difference in visiting a General Practitioner and a hospital is only caused by the difference in proactiveness among the two genders (Department of Human Services, 2011).
Patients taken to emergency are usually in serious conditions. The number of men in danger and need of rapid intervention is much higher than women. Underlying reason is that women usually acknowledge symptoms of poor health or early signs of a disease (Ashley, J, 2010). Men tend to ignore bodily symptoms of diseases and ill health. Men also perceive themselves to be strong and subconsciously rely on their immune system to take care of the ailment (Rabin, R, C, 2009).

3. Differences in awareness and social inhibitions

The other likely reason is lack of education among men pertaining to symptoms of diseases (MacSwain, Sherry & Stewart, 2007). Men are unable to recognize early signs of diseases until the disease has progressed to advanced stages. Generally held perceptions about masculinity thwarts men from seek external help. Men subconsciously rely on their immune system to counteract diseases. The net outcome is that men are directly admitted to emergency as opposed to their counterparts.  Men are socially programmed to acknowledge problems related to reproductive system (Geoghegan, T, 2010). Diseases related to reproductive system are perceived as signs of inadequacy and deficiency is manliness. In contrast, campaigns related to breast cancer has reduced inhibitions among women from seeking medical help in reproductive health (Geoghegan, T, 2010).  


This report has examined whether females use medical services more than males. It is concluded that women seek health care twelve percent more than men. Women are also more likely to be admitted to hospitals than males. Nevertheless, the possibility to be transferred to hospital emergency is same for both genders. These differences are accounted for by several factors.

Foremost among the reasons is lack of awareness of disease symptoms among men. Social inhibitions prevent men from seeking external help in problems pertaining to genitals or reproductive system. Perception held by majority of men as seeking medical help as a sign of weak immune system is also a contributory factor. These factors are responsible for a decreased frequency among men of consulting a general practitioner or being admitted to hospital during early stages of a disease.


• Educational programs targeted at males should be initiated by government to increase awareness among symptoms of common and potentially life-threatening diseases
• Develop alternative ways for consultations in suitable hours through phone or online consultations to reduce inhibitions among men from consulting a GP
• Change social perception through advertising campaigns regarding men’s reproductive health. Men should be conditioned to acknowledge reproductive health as a general topic rather than a sign of inadequacy
• Alter social perceptions about manliness and immune system through educational campaigns


Ashley, J, 2010,” Women 'more likely to report ill health than men'“ BBC News, <viewed 13 October 2011,>
Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011, “Australian Social trends”, PP, 2
Geoghegan, T, 2009, “why are men reluctant to seek medical help? BBC News Magazine, viewed 15 October 2011,   <>
Gower, T. (2002, Jul 08). The healthy man; avoiding doctors: A guy thing. Los Angeles Times, pp. S.1-S.1. Retrieved from
Green, C., Polen, M., and Dickinson, D, 2002, Gender differences in predictors of initiation, retention, and completion in an HMO-based substance abuse treatment program, Journal of Abuse Treatment, 22(4), pp. 285-295. Retrieved <>  
Koopman, G., and Lamers, Leida, 2007, Gender and health care utilization: The role of mental distress and help-seeking propensity. Social Science & Medicine, 64(6), pp. 216-230. Retrieved <>
MacSwain, C., Sherry, S., and Stewart, S., 2009, Gender differences in health anxiety: An investigation of the interpersonal model of health anxiety, Personality and Individual Differences, 47(8), pp. 938-943. Retrieved <>
Pear, R. (2008, Oct 30). Women buying health insurance pay a penalty. New York Times, rieved<>
Wood, S, 2000, “Do real men go to the doctor? Study shows male wait too long for routine, preventive health care” times Union, viewed 16 October 2011, <>
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