Sex differences in physical symptoms: The contribution of symptom perception theory

Sex differences in physical symptoms: The contribution of symptom perception theory Health surveys, studies on physical symptom reporting, and medical registration of physical complaints find consistent sex differences in symptom reporting, with women having the higher rates. By and large, this female excess of physical symptoms is independent from the symptom measure, response format and time frame used, and the population under study. As most studies concern healthy individuals, the sex difference can not simply be attributed to a greater physical morbidity in women. In this paper we propose a number of explanations for this phenomenon, based on a biopsychosocial perspective on symptom perception. We discuss a symptom perception model that brings together factors and processes from the extant literature which are thought to affect symptom reporting, such as somatic information, selection of information through attention and distraction, attribution of somatic sensations, and the personality factors somatisation and negative affectivity. Finally, we discuss the explanations for sex differences in physical symptoms that arise from the model. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Social Science & Medicine Elsevier

Sex differences in physical symptoms: The contribution of symptom perception theory

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Publisher
Elsevier
Copyright
Copyright © 1997 Elsevier Ltd
ISSN
0277-9536
D.O.I.
10.1016/S0277-9536(96)00340-1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Health surveys, studies on physical symptom reporting, and medical registration of physical complaints find consistent sex differences in symptom reporting, with women having the higher rates. By and large, this female excess of physical symptoms is independent from the symptom measure, response format and time frame used, and the population under study. As most studies concern healthy individuals, the sex difference can not simply be attributed to a greater physical morbidity in women. In this paper we propose a number of explanations for this phenomenon, based on a biopsychosocial perspective on symptom perception. We discuss a symptom perception model that brings together factors and processes from the extant literature which are thought to affect symptom reporting, such as somatic information, selection of information through attention and distraction, attribution of somatic sensations, and the personality factors somatisation and negative affectivity. Finally, we discuss the explanations for sex differences in physical symptoms that arise from the model.

Journal

Social Science & MedicineElsevier

Published: Jul 1, 1997

References

  • Masculinity, femininity and sex: an exploration of their relative contribution to explaining gender differences in health
    Annandale, E.; Hunt, K.
  • Paid employment and women's health: a benefit or a source of role strain?
    Arber, S.; Gilbert, G.N.; Dale, A.
  • Sexism, feminism, and medicalism: a decade review of literature on gender and illness
    Clarke, J.N.
  • Male and female health problems in general practice: the differential impact of social position and social roles
    Gijsbers van Wijk, C.M.T.; Kolk, A.M.M.; van den Bosch, W.J.H.M.; van den Hoogen, H.J.M.
  • Towards a his and hers theory of emotion: gender differences in visceral perception
    Pennebaker, J.W.; Roberts, T.A.
  • Individual and situational differences in recovery from bereavement: a risk group identified
    Stroebe, W.; Stroebe, M.S.; Domittner, G.

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