Why are women in charge of household health?

Photo by Jebb Harris, the Register.

A new study out of Canada reveals a lot about the dynamics of the married household. It confirms that women, decades after having left behind that permanently-tied apron and venturing into the same workplaces as men, are still counted on to make medical decisions for everyone in their homes.

The study shows that married men who are suffering chest pains are 35 percent more likely than single men to head to the emergency room within six hours. A woman’s marital status did not have the same effect.

According to CNN.com:

One reason for this discrepancy may be that, traditionally, women tend to assume the caregiver role in a relationship and may be more likely to insist that their husbands seek medical care than vice versa, says the lead author of the study, Clare Atzema, M.D., a researcher at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, a Toronto-based nonprofit organization that studies health care in Ontario.

Another doc quoted by the news org said men are more likely than women to ignore or deny symptoms — both their own and their spouses’.

 Are men incompetent in this area or just plain afraid?

My editor once suggested that men in Southern California care more about the health of their cars than their own bodies, and I think there’s some truth to that. Many guys will quickly inform their wives when it’s time to get the minivan’s oil changed, but they’re loathe to urge their spouses to get checked out when something’s not right.

Hey, married guys: Is your wife (or if you’re in a long-term relationship, your long-suffering significant other) the head of household medicine? How do you feel about that? And don’t you think it’s time you started pulling your own weight?


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