Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Gender Differences in Professional Consultation for a Mental Health Concern: A Canadian Population Study

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Gender Differences in Professional Consultation for a Mental Health Concern: A Canadian Population Study

Article excerpt

In Canada and internationally, men consult health professionals for mental health concerns less frequently than women (Diaz-Granados, Georgiades, & Boyle, 2010; Drapeau, Boyer, & Lesage, 2009; Wang et al., 2007). This difference persists when controlling for mental health concerns, level of distress, as well as socioeconomic and demographic characteristics (Diaz-Granados et al., 2010; Rhodes, Goering, To, & Williams, 2002). However, studies of these differences have found that there is a reduced gender gap among those who consult specialty mental health providers (e.g., psychologists, psychiatrists) compared with those who consult general practitioners (Drapeau et al., 2009; Uebelacker, Wang, Berglund, & Kessler, 2006). This is particularly notable, as specialty mental health treatments have been posited as more helpful for mental health concerns than general medical treatments (Uebelacker et al., 2006).

The gender gap further varies depending on the type of health provider consulted (Diaz-Granados et al., 2010). For example, one study found that women consulted a general practitioner for mental health concerns approximately 3 times as frequently as men, a psychologist 2.3 times as frequently, and a psychiatrist 1.7 times as frequently (Drapeau et al., 2009). However, findings have varied regarding the magnitude and direction of gender differences in mental health specialist consultation between different populations (Cheung & Dewa, 2007; Diaz-Granados et al., 2010; Gadalla, 2008; Roberge, Fournier, Duhoux, Nguyen, & Smolders, 2011; Shapiro et al., 1984; Teesson, Hall, Lynskey, & Degenhardt, 2000).

Another variable that impacts gender differences in professional consultation is the type of mental health concern of those seeking services. Studies evaluating mental health consultation among those with major depressive disorder (MDD) have found that women more likely consulted a health professional than men (Cheung & Dewa, 2007; Diverty & Beaudet, 1997; Mojtabai & Olfson, 2006; Wang et al., 2007). Evaluations of specific service types were less clear, with some finding women more likely consulted a general practitioner than men (Cheung & Dewa, 2007; Vasiliadis, Lesage, Adair, & Boyer, 2005) and others finding no gender differences (Starkes, Poulin, & Kisely, 2005). Although research investigating gender differences in psychological and psychiatric help seeking among those with MDD is sparse, no differences have been found (Cheung & Dewa, 2007). Further, among people with suicide ideation (SI) or suicide attempts, women more often consulted general practitioners, yet there were no significant gender differences in consulting psychiatrists or psychologists.

Evaluation of number of consultations further aids our understanding of sufficient treatment for mental health concerns. Unfortunately, there is a lack of research in this area (Elhai & Ford, 2007); this is particularly notable in Canadian samples. In the research that is available, gender differences in treatment intensity are rarely found (Elhai & Ford, 2007; Elhai, Grubaugh, Richardson, Egede, & Creamer, 2008; Elhai, Voorhees, Ford, Min, & Frueh, 2009; Fikretoglu, Elhai, Liu, Richardson, & Pedlar, 2009; Lindsay Nour, Elhai, Ford, & Frueh, 2009). Instead, researchers have found need for treatment (e.g., mental health diagnosis, poor physical health) to be the most consistent predictor of intensity. However, these studies did not thoroughly investigate gender differences; thus, continued work is needed.

Although gender is often a statistically significant predictor (i.e., covariate) in studies evaluating professional consultation for a mental health reason, it is rarely the independent variable of focus. Thus, understanding its influence on professional consultation is limited, particularly in clinical subpopulations such as people with specific types of mental health concerns (e. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.