The aim of the present study was to evaluate the physical and mental health status of female workers from five different occupational groups and to identify possible sociodemographic and gender-coded family-related factors as well as work characteristics influencing women's health. The identified predictors of health status were subjected to a gender-sensitive analysis and their relations to one another are discussed. A total of 1083 female hospital workers including medical doctors, technical and administrative personnel, nurses and a group mainly consisting of scientific personnel and psychologists completed a questionnaire measuring work- and family-related variables, sociodemographic data and the Short-form 36 Health Questionnaire (SF-36). Data were analysed by multivariate regression analyses. Female medical doctors reported highest scores for all physical health dimensions except General Health. Our study population showed general low mental health status among administrative personnel and the heterogeneous group, others, scored highest on all mental health component scores. A series of eight regression analyses were performed. Three variables contributed highly significantly to all SF-36 subscale scores: age, satisfaction with work schedule, and the unpaid work variable. Age had the strongest influence on all physical dimensions except General Health (β=-0.17) and had no detectable influence on mental health scores. The unpaid work variable (β=-0.23; p<0.001) exerted a stronger influence on General Health than did age. Nevertheless, these variables were limited predictors of physical and mental health status. In all occupational groups the amount of time spent daily on child care and household tasks, as a traditional gender-coded factor, and satisfaction with work schedule were the only contributors to mental health among working women in this study. Traditional sociodemographic data had no effect on mental health status. In addition to age, these factors were shown to be the only predictors of physical health status of female workers. Gender coded-factors matter. These findings underline the importance of including gender-coded family- and work-related variables in medical research over and above basic sociodemographic data in order to describe study populations more clearly.
2006 by the Japan Society for Occupational Health