IESOP: Independence and Economic Security of the Older Population

Abstract of Research Paper No. 20
Age Differences in Women's Perceptions of Their Health Problems and Concerns
by Margaret Denton and Vivienne Walters

This paper addresses age differences in women's perceptions of their health problems and concerns. The data are drawn from interviews with a stratified random sample of 356 women in Hamilton, Canada. The data show that women of all ages are concerned or worried about the major causes of death including heart disease, all types of cancer and road traffic accidents although younger women are more concerned with breast cancer and cancer of the womb.

In terms of the health problems they have experienced, while stress and tiredness are common health problems reported by women of all ages, older women are more likely than the younger women to report life threatening health problems such as heart disease, lung disease and chronic diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis. Information from in-depth interviews with 32 of the women reveal that the sources of stress, tiredness and depression lie in the social context of women's lives and differ for women of different ages.

The authors conclude that it should not be assumed that women's health concerns and experiences are homogeneous. In research on women's health and in shaping women's health policy, it is important to recognize that there are fundamental differences

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Last updated: Dec 16, 1997.