Study: women sick much more often than men

Study: women sick much more often than men

Gender differences in diseases
Women and men show very different health complaints, which is also reflected in the sick leave that DAK-Gesundheit has evaluated for its current health report. The "study shows the greatest gender differences in mental illnesses, cancer and circulatory diseases," according to the DAK.

According to the DAK, there are large differences between the sexes of numerous diseases such as depression, cancer or heart attacks. This also affects the number of sick days that the health insurance company has evaluated for its current health report. “In 2015, for example, women were 14 percent more likely to be absent from work than their male colleagues,” reports the DAK. Overall, the overall sick leave rate has reached its highest level in 16 years, according to one of the other key results of the new DAK health report.

First, comprehensive gender differences in sick leave were evaluated
For the current report, according to the DAK, "for the first time comprehensively the gender differences in sick leave days and their causes" were recorded. The sick leave of around 2.7 million employed persons served as a database. Furthermore, the Forsa Institute carried out a representative survey on behalf of the DAK with more than 5,000 women and men between the ages of 18 and 65. When evaluating the data, it became clear that the gender-specific differences are significantly larger than previously assumed. The sick leave rate among women was 14 percent higher than among men. In 2015, 44 out of 1,000 female employees were on sick leave every day, compared to 39 out of 1,000 working men.

Difference greater than expected
Furthermore, the figures in the current health report show that women were missing fewer days per sick leave, but they were on sick leave far more frequently. The women had a total of 134.4 cases of illness per 100 insured, while the men had 115.8 cases of illness per 100 insured. "Our report shows that the much-quoted little difference between women and men is much larger than expected," emphasizes Herbert Rebscher, CEO of DAK-Gesundheit. The results of the report clarify very precisely "where the factors influencing sick leave are and how high the respective proportion is really between the sexes."

Men are increasingly suffering from cardiovascular diseases
The health report also shows that "men in all age groups were absent from work much more often because of cardiovascular diseases than women (+ 65 percent more days absent)," said the DAK. Almost one in ten men between the ages of 45 and 64 suffer from coronary heart disease. Men were also far ahead of women in terms of absenteeism due to injuries. They showed almost twice as many absences (48 percent more) than the female gender. The authors of the report attribute this to the higher risk tolerance and other occupational activities.

Women increasingly with mental health problems
In the case of mental illness, however, women were significantly more affected. They were absent much more frequently because of mental illnesses than men (67 percent more absenteeism among women). Depression in particular affects women more. For this reason too, the prescription of psychotropic drugs is much higher for them. According to the DAK, every eleventh woman received a prescription for antidepressants last year, while this only applied to every twentieth man.

Women are absent from cancer significantly longer
The most striking was the gender difference, according to the DAK, in terms of sick leave due to cancer. Here women would have shown 74 percent more days off than men. Although the risk of developing cancer is roughly the same for women and men overall, the cancer usually only affects men at an older age - from around 60 years. Losses in working life can therefore only be determined to a limited extent. However, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, and this can often be detected at a younger age, i.e. at the time of work.

According to the DAK, the job also has a significant impact on how often women and men report sick. In many sectors, women show higher sick leave. These include, for example, public administration and healthcare. Overall, men only had higher sick leave rates than women in very few industries, reports the DAK. This applies, for example, to horticulture and the natural sciences, where men have more days off than women.

Different ways of dealing with diseases
In the current health report, the gender-specific handling of diseases was also striking. In 2015, for example, the men only visited a doctor 4.2 times on average, while working women went to the doctor seven times a year on average. "Even when viewed without screening and pregnancy-related treatments, it is clear that women were treated more frequently," reports the DAK. The results of the current report are an important building block for gender-sensitive health research, emphasizes Petra Kolip, Professor of Prevention and Health Promotion at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Bielefeld, in the DAK press release. "These very specific data from the DAK report are helpful, in order to be able to derive measures that are as precise as possible, ”continues Kolip. (fp)

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