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Sociol Health Illn. 2014 Mar;36(3):319-37. doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.12049. Epub 2013 Sep 23.

Work-family conflict, health services and medication use among dual-income couples in Europe.

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Department of Sociology, Ghent University, Belgium.


Combination pressure or work-life imbalance is linked to adverse health. However, it remains unclear how work-family conflict is related to healthcare utilisation. Does work-family conflict function as a barrier or as a facilitator in relation to the use of health services and prescription medication? Lack of time may prevent people from visiting a doctor when they feel unwell. However, combination pressure can also be expected to intensify the use of health services, as the need for a quick fix is prioritised. Further, do women and men differ in their susceptibility to medicalisation and time pressure resulting from work-life imbalance? This article investigates the use of health services and prescription medication of dual-income couples with children, based on data from 23 countries in the European Social Survey round 2 (N(women) = 3755; N(men) = 3142). It was found that medical services and prescription medications are used more frequently in dual-income couples experiencing work-to-family spillover, but for women only this is irrespective of their self-reported health. Family-to-work spillover does not result in increased health service or medication use for either men or women. While women opt for a medical response to work-life imbalance, men's reluctance to seek formal health support is confirmed.


gender differences; health services use; medicalisation; medication use; work-family conflict

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