Most American women feel more independent today than they did five years ago (64%), reporting the greatest strides in women’s independence were in career advancement (65%), education (55%) and politics (46%). But when it comes to their health, women don’t claim independence — nearly half of women (47%) believe society values men’s health more than women’s health, according to a new survey of 2,500 Americans.

Almost seven in 10 women (67%) say they put their family’s health needs ahead of their own. More than one-third of employed women (35%) use most of their sick days for someone else and nearly one-quarter (24%) of all employed women feel like they are at a disadvantage because they are typically the one who uses sick days when a family member gets sick. This is especially true for moms with kids living in the household (40%).

“Women are sacrificing their own well-being in the pursuit of trying to balance demands at home and at work,” said Monique da Silva, Head of North America Healthcare for Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and a working mother of three.  “Because many women feel that their health is being undervalued, we must reassess as a society how we value women and find ways to ensure that they have the support they need to dedicate time and resources for their own health.”

The survey also found that when money is tight, one in four women (26%) have paid for others’ drug prescriptions instead of their own.  A majority of women agree that their families rely on them to be in charge of health-related decisions (62%) and over half of all women fear that if they become sick, their family will have difficulty managing everyday activities (56%).

“Especially in light of health reform which is seeking behavior modification and prevention to reduce stress on the healthcare system, these data reinforce the importance of building a sustained connection with women at the places or through the media channels they are already using to drive continual behavior change,” adds da Silva. “It is critical that we truly understand and uncover the key pressure points that will get women to stop, consider and act on health information.”

Additional key findings from the survey include:

  • The majority of U.S. women (55%) are concerned that the most recent health care reform will slow the advancement of women’s health.
  • Many women think that until they are better represented in government (50%), become leaders in the pharmaceutical industry (47%), or start to enter the medical field as doctors or surgeons (44%), women’s health will not be a priority.  Even with all that being said, one in every five women (22%) still tends to choose male doctors over female doctors for themselves and their family.
  • Working moms* carry a heavier load when it comes to health than working dads* with moms being more likely than dads to take off from work to care for a sick child (62% vs. 47%)
  • More moms* than dads* believe their families would find it difficult to manage everyday activities if they became sick (84% vs. 63%)
  • Moms* are relied on to be in charge of their family’s healthcare related decisions  (90% vs. 64% of dads)
  • Moms* feel like they are at a disadvantage because they are typically the ones who use sick days when a family member gets sick (40% vs. 23% of dads)


More information on the survey findings are available at Ogilvy Public Relations’ blog, WomenOlogy: The Anatomy of Marketing to Women ( The blog’s diverse global perspectives reflect the agency’s work across multiple locations and practice areas including Health, Consumer, Social Marketing, Digital and Corporate Affairs.  Join the conversation!

*For this study, moms and dads are defined as parents with children <18 living in the household.

About the Survey:

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide developed the study with the objective of understanding Americans’ perspectives on women’s independence, specifically related to healthcare.  TNS Global conducted the online survey among a nationally representative sample of 2,500 Americans ages 18 and over. The survey was fielded June 21 to June 22, 2011, and has a margin of error of +/-2.0% at the 95% confidence level.

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