Psychological Medicine

Preliminary Communication

Sex differences in perception of illness and expressed life satisfaction

Monica E. Briscoea1 c1

a1 the General Practice Research Unit, Institute of Psychiatry, London


A preliminary survey of 10 married couples was carried out to test the hypothesis that women express greater dissatisfaction with their health and other personal life domains than men. Although the women made more use of medical facilities for minor complaints than their husbands, no difference was found in expressed satisfaction, or in number or severity of symptoms reported at interview. However, there was a discrepancy between husbands' and wives' perception of their spouses' satisfaction levels and experience of illness-symptoms, in the direction of wives being perceived by their husbands as considerably less healthy and more dissatisfied than the husbands were rated by their wives. Some evidence was also found for greater emotionality in women. The results are regarded as indicating that illness is more socially acceptable in women than in men.


c1 Address for correspondence: Mrs Monica E. Briscoe, General Practice Research Unit, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF.