Objective: To examine the influence of gender on the health status of older Jamaicans and to identify key health-related determinants.
Methods: Nationally representative data were used to quantify gender differences for 10 chronic diseases and key determinants of health (ie lifestyle, social, financial, biological, healthcare utilization).
Results: Women generally had higher age adjusted odds of chronic diseases; arthritis (aOR = 3.46), hypertension (aOR = 2.70), depression (aOR = 2.23) and heart disease (aOR = 2.01) showed the greatest gender gradients (p < 0.01). Cancer was the only condition for which women had reduced odds (aOR= 0.38) while asthma showed no difference (p > 0.05). In terms of determinants, women were more likely to be obese (OR = 4.4), inactive (OR = 1.51), have high cholesterol (OR = 1.8) and to be more financially and socially dependent than men.
Conclusion: The excess disease burden experienced by women places unnecessary strain on families, the health sector and the economy. Measures to reduce modifiable risk factors in older cohorts is critical, especially for older women and warrants gender specific approaches in health promotion and disease prevention.