Measurement of need for assistance with daily activities: quantifying the influence of gender roles

S M Allen, V Mor, V Raveis, P Houts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research quantified the contribution of traditional gender roles to patient-reported receipt of assistance with personal care activities, housework, cooking, shopping, transportation, and administrative activities among a sample of 629 cancer patients with advanced disease who were undergoing outpatient treatment. Approximately 80 percent of male patients and 30 percent of female patients attributed help received with household tasks to longstanding division of labor. This response was particularly common among married men and did not differ by age or educational status. However, available morbidity indicators suggest that approximately one-third of these patients actually were functionally impaired, despite attribution to gender role expectations. We adjusted estimates of need for assistance to avoid overestimation due to role-related help, and a second time to avoid underestimation due to underreporting of physical inability to perform a task alone. After making these adjustments, male patients' level of need for assistance with traditionally female-associated tasks was reduced by approximately 50 percent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S204-11
JournalJournal of Gerontology: Social Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1993


  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Helping Behavior
  • Housekeeping
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms/psychology
  • Social Support


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