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Chapter 7

Sociological Explanations of Gender Differences in Mental and Physical Health

by Patricia P. Rieker and Chloe E. Bird
In this chapter, we briefly review some of the major gender differences in physical and mental health. However, the main thrust of the chapter is on the unique sociological contributions to explicating gender differences in health. We discuss the strengths and limitations of the sociological models built on theories of inequality. In addition, we describe the evolution of particular sociological perspectives on gender and health. We also identify gaps in knowledge that occur as a result of the intellectual parochialism that discourages interdisciplinary research combining social and biological explanations of gender differences in health. Finally, we discuss new directions for research to improve our understanding of differences in men's and women's health.