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Secular Trends in Self-Assessed Health Over 24 Years Among 38-, 50-, 70- and 75-Year-Old Women: Observations from the Prospective Population Study of Women in Gothenburg

Authors Jönsson S, Hange D

Received 24 December 2019

Accepted for publication 8 April 2020

Published 3 June 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 261—270


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Sofia Jönsson,1 Dominique Hange2,3

1Region Vastra Gotaland, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden; 2Primary Health Care/School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden; 3Narhalsan Research and Development Primary Health Care, Region Vastra Gotaland, Gothenburg, Sweden

Correspondence: Dominique Hange
Primary Health Care/School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, PO Box 454, SE-405 30, Gothenburg 700, Sweden
Tel +46722 245 700

Background: Throughout the world, women report poorer self-assessed health than men. In Sweden, women’s life circumstances have changed on many levels during the past decades. While cognition and bodily health have improved, mental health has deteriorated. During the 1980s and 1990s, Swedish women’s self-rated health was deteriorating with an increase of psychosomatic diseases. Common mental disorders have increased most rapidly and contributed to an increase in sick leaves.
Purpose: The aim of this study was to study secular trends in self-assessed health in SF-36, in three different cohorts of women examined in 1992– 1993, 2000– 2001, 2004– 2006 and 2016– 2017.
Participants and Methods: Data from the Population Study of Women in Gothenburg were used where 38-, 50-, 70- and 75-year-old women had responded to SF-36 over a period of 24 years. SF-36 is a questionnaire concerning self-assessed health that consists of eight different subcategories, ie, four about physical health and four about mental health. This study made a comparison between the different results in SF-36 during 24 years.
Results: Results showed that today’s 38-year-old women had poorer self-rated health in four subcategories, social functioning (SF), mental health (MH), vitality (VT) and general health (GH), compared to 24 years ago. Fifty-year-old women rated their health better in one subcategory, physical functioning (PF), and worse in another subcategory, VT. Seventy-year-old women rated their health better in two subcategories, physical role (RP) and emotional role (RE).
Conclusion: This study indicates that poor mental health is increasing among middle-aged women and that increased mental stress levels can be an underlying factor.

Keywords: mental stress, population study, self-assessed health, SF-36, women’s health

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