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This article is part of the supplement: Women's Health Surveillance Report

Open Access Report

Personal Health Practices

Heather Maclean1*, Keva Glynn2, Zhenyuan Cao3 and Donna Ansara4

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Research in Women's Health, University of Toronto and Sunnybrook Women's Hospital, 790 Bay St., 7th Floor, Toronto, ON, Canada

2 Centre for Research in Women's Health, University of Toronto and Sunnybrook Women's Hospital, 790 Bay St., 7th Floor, Toronto, ON, Canada

3 Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, Health Canada, 120 Colonnade Rd, Ottawa, ON, Canada

4 Centre for Research in Women's Health, University of Toronto and Sunnybrook Women's Hospital, 790 Bay St., 7th Floor, Toronto, ON, Canada

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BMC Women's Health 2004, 4(Suppl 1):S4  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-4-S1-S4

Published: 25 August 2004

Abstract

Health Issue

There are differences in health practices and self-rated health among different socio-demographic groups of women. The relationship between socio-demographic status and a) a range of health behaviours and b) a combination of multiple risk and multiple health promoting practices were examined. The relationship between self-rated health and health practices was also assessed.

Key Findings

There were geographic differences in health practices with women in British Columbia having the highest odds of engaging in multiple health promoting practices, while women in Quebec had the lowest. Reports of engaging in multiple risk behaviours were most common in Ontario. Women from Ontario had the highest odds of reporting very good/excellent health and women from British Columbia had among the lowest odds.

The data supported a strong social gradient between an increase in income/education and healthy practices, especially those that are health promoting. However, women with higher education were more likely to be overweight and those with higher incomes were more likely to drink alcohol regularly.

Immigrant women were less likely to engage in multiple health risk practices compared to Canadian-born women. However, they were less likely to report very good/ excellent health than non- immigrants. While marriage appeared to have a generally protective effect on women's health practices, single women were more likely to be physically active and have a normal weight.

Data Gaps and Recommendations

More sensitive indicators need to be developed to better understand possible reasons for the socioeconomic gradient. Data collection should focus on both rural and Aboriginal populations.