Most American women delay medical care until symptoms start impacting their lives because they are discouraged by previous experiences at the doctor's office or are worried about costs.
More than one in four (43%) American women missed a day or more of work due to health issues in the past 60 days, according to a recent survey of 1,200 full-time employed and insured women ages 18 to 60 conducted by Parsley Health.
The top reasons for missing work include fatigue or lack of sleep (37%), headaches or migraines (35%), and general malaise (28%).
The survey reveals that women who miss work due to health issues may be still waiting for their diagnosis — only 33% reported confidence in their current diagnosis.
Previous research has shown that women are commonly misdiagnosed across various conditions. They are 57% more likely than men to receive incorrect diagnosis after a heart attack. A staggering 75% of all women with endometriosis report being initially misdiagnosed.
Eight out of ten women report delaying medical care until their symptoms worsen and impact their daily lives. Nearly half (44%) say they don't have time to make appointments or go to the doctor, while 34% are discouraged by previous experiences at the doctor's office or don't feel like the doctor helped them resolve their symptoms.
One-third (33%) of women delay care due to fear of their visit cost or inability to pay copays. Some 24% report worrying that the doctor's solution will be more prescription medications, and they don't want to take more prescriptions.
According to the survey, women miss work for symptoms the fractured healthcare system isn't designed to treat effectively. For instance, migraines are not caused by a painkiller deficiency, even though that is a standard of care.
While fatigue and general malaise are frequently misdiagnosed as mental health symptoms, many other conditions can cause these symptoms.
Disproportionate burden of health issues
A 2016 study demonstrated that companies with at least 30% female leaders had a 15% increase in profitability compared to firms with no women in the C-Suite.
However, females face greater health-based obstacles to reaching the top positions. They carry a higher burden of chronic conditions than men; for instance, women account for nearly 80% of the population with autoimmune diseases that are often debilitating.
Four in ten women (41%) surveyed reported having a mental health diagnosis. Of those, 60% missed work at least once in the past 60 days for their condition.
In many cases, physical culprits of conditions such as blood sugar disorders or thyroid imbalances can manifest as mental health symptoms and sabotage a person's efforts to find mental and emotional well-being.
Nearly half (45%) of women with mental diseases also reported being diagnosed with a gastrointestinal tract condition, while 37% had received an autoimmune condition diagnosis.
Delaying care may result in poorer health outcomes and higher medical bills. As women account for about 60% of the American workforce, building a system that addresses their unique health concerns is crucial.
- Parsley Health. State of Health of Women in the Workforce.
- National Library of Medicine. Chronic conditions in women: the development of a National Institutes of health framework.
- Peterson Institute for International Economics. Study: Firms with More Women in the C-Suite Are More Profitable.