Darko, R., Adanu, R.M., Duda, R.B., Douptcheva, N. and Hill, A.G.
The health of adult women in Accra, Ghana: self-reporting and objective assessments 2008-2009
Ghana Medical Journal, 46, (2), .
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Objectives: The study provides a full description of the state of women’s health in Accra, Ghana using self reported as well as objective health measures. Using data from the Women’s Health Survey of Accra, Wave 2 (WHSA-2), the authors a) examine the consistency of the objective measures of health status (anthropometry and blood pressures) with self-report measures, including the Short Form 36 indices for 8 separate domains of health; and b) describe the main socio-economic differentials in morbidity.
Methods: Cross-sectional household survey with field measurements. 2814 women aged 18 and over were interviewed and measured in their homes in late 2008 and early 2009. The physical measurements included height, weight, waist and hip measurement and 3 or more measures of resting blood pressure.
Results: Using the 8 domains of self-reported health captured by the Short Form 36 instrument, we find that physical health worsens more sharply with age than mental health. Social class differentials are narrow in the younger cohorts but widen amongst the elderly. The physical measurements reveal unhealthy levels of obesity and hypertension, worsening steadily with rising age. Age and the wealth of the household influence women’s health more than their individual characteristics such as education.
Conclusions: Younger women appear to be in good health with steady declines in physical and mental health with age. The major threat to women’s health appears to be the rising levels of obesity and hypertension with mean BMIs for all women over age 45 in excess of 30, producing elevated blood pressures and associated high risks of heart attacks and stroke rising sharply amongst the elderly.
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