2024 Women’s Wellness Index Report

New Data: Moms Prioritize Household Healthcare Over Their Own

May 2024

Women, especially mothers, often prioritize the well-being of their household members over themselves. PYMNTS Intelligence’s interviews with women found that they feel obligated to care for others out of personal, social or religious expectations — ultimately making choices that impact their own health outcomes.

78% of mothers prioritize their household’s health over their own well-being.
Mothers were 14% less likely to seek preventative services for medical care than single women without children.
“I always care about others more, and I tend to get so involved that I unintentionally give myself less attention,” said a middle-income Gen Z woman.


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    PYMNTS Intelligence created the “2024 Women’s Wellness Index” to assess what factors negatively impact women’s health and how to overcome them. The Index paints a holistic picture of health and wellness outcomes by leveraging respondents’ reports of overall health, their skill in securing healthcare, the dollar amount they spent on personal healthcare relative to household healthcare, and the time they spent caring for their own health and well-being. Considering these factors, the 2024 Women’s Wellness Index accounts for health and wellness and the resources needed to support women’s overall well-being. Women who spend more time caring for others spend less time looking at their own health. In this data dive, these women explain why.

    These are just some of the findings from the “2024 Women’s Wellness Index,” a collaboration between PYMNTS Intelligence and CareCredit, a Synchrony Solution. This edition looks at why many women put others’ health above their own and draws on results from a survey of 10,045 U.S. consumers held from Nov. 10, 2023, to Dec. 6, 2023.



    Key Findings

    When considering other life priorities, many women still say their top priority overall is healthcare for members of their household.

    Fifty-five percent of women from the survey reported themselves as the primary person responsible for healthcare decisions in their households. Sixty-three percent of cohabitating mothers and 66% of single mothers take this title.

    The view that caring for other household members is the chief priority is greatest among mothers in nuclear families, where 28% say that their household health is the top priority in their life — above options such as relationships with family and friends, financial goals and religious life. Single mothers are close behind in this thought, with 24% placing their children’s healthcare and well-being above all other life goals. On the other hand, 30% of single women consider their own health to be their top priority, followed by 1 in 4 women living with their partners.

    Women explain why

    When we asked women why they put their household health first, they cited various reasons. A common theme was that women felt caring for others was a gendered expectation:

    • “Because he is the breadwinner and deserves the care.” – Gen X high-income woman
    • “It is biblical to think of others above your own self.” – Low-income Gen X woman
    • “I just feel like I’m supposed to.” – Low-income, millennial woman

    Women’s quotes highlighted an obligation to care for those who struggle to care for themselves, such as children or an ailing household member.

    • “Because that’s what moms do, we put everyone else’s health and happiness ahead of our own.” – Middle-income millennial woman
    • “Because my kids are my responsibility, and I have to make sure that they’re very well taken care of before me ’cuz they can’t do it for themselves.” – Low-income millennial woman

    Many women also felt that care work was beneficial for their mental well-being and that it was an expression of their love language:

    • “My husband and son need to be healthy for my own mental well-being.” – Middle-income Gen X woman
    • “Because he is my husband and older and had a stroke in the past. Mainly because I love him.” – Low-income Gen X woman

    Most women prioritize the well-being and healthcare of other household members above their own, which can negatively affect their health.

    Sixty-two percent of women say healthcare for their household well-being is more important than their own, with 78% of mothers in nuclear families and 64% of single mothers placing their family’s well-being above their own. Though children were a key factor in prioritizing others, half of the women who live with partners but not children still prioritized their partner’s well-being.

    The 2024 Women’s Wellness Index found that overall, women who prioritize their healthcare first have the best health outcomes. For example, women living alone scored 20% higher on the health index than the women’s national average. Conversely, women in nuclear families prioritize their health the least. Their average health score fell 15% below the national average. As the sole provider for their household’s wellness, single mothers prioritize their health a little more. Our Index found a 10% drop from the average for this group. Women who live with their partner are equally likely to put their own or their partner’s wellness first. Their Index scores were 5.6% more than the national average for women.

    15%

    Degree by which mothers in nuclear families scored lower on the Women’s Wellness Index relative to the women’s national average, indicating poorer health outcomes for this group

    Many women delay their own preventative, proactive healthcare, a choice that can worsen their health outcomes.

    Similarly, women prioritizing others first are the least likely to be proactive about their health care. Roughly 1 in 4 mothers wait until they have a medical issue before going to see a doctor or provider. For comparison, single women living alone are far more likely to seek preventative care. Eighty-three percent of this group participate in regular preventative healthcare. Single mothers are the second most likely group to report not accessing proactive healthcare: 18% wait until a problem occurs.

    Somewhat breaking these trends is that women without children who live with partners are the most proactive about their health. Eighty-four percent of this group seek preventative medical care. The data suggests partners can help women enter and sustain preventative health routines.

    71%

    of mothers get preventative medical care, relative to 83% of single women living alone.

    Conclusion

    Data reveals that despite progress toward equality, many women still feel gendered expectations to be primary caregivers of their household. This is especially true for mothers. Notably, women who serve as caretakers of children or partners tended to deprioritize their own healthcare. Lower Index scores for these groups suggest that internalized viewpoints tend to impact health and wellness for the negative.

    Women play many roles in their households and aid in the health and well-being of all household members. Though society continually changes gender roles, these Index results suggest much more must occur to support equity for every woman. By giving women better resources, support, financial options and distribution of responsibilities, we can help create a more equitable society that supports women and their positive health outcomes.

    Methodology

    The “2024 Women’s Wellness Index: Women’s Life Stage Priorities in Health and Wellness,” a collaboration between PYMNTS Intelligence and CareCredit, a Synchrony solution, is based on a survey of 10,045 U.S. consumers held from Nov. 10, 2023, to Dec. 6, 2023. The survey looked at how women’s finances, time and social context impact their overall health and well-being. Our sample was census-balanced across several key demographic variables. The average respondent was 48 years old, 51% identified as women, 33% had college degrees and 38% reported annual incomes of $100,000 or more.

    About

    For more than 35 years, the CareCredit healthcare credit card has been helping people get the care they want and need. From dentistry, veterinary care and hearing aids to prescription glasses and cosmetic surgery, CareCredit is a way for people to pay for care not covered by insurance — including elective procedures, copays, deductibles and coinsurance — often with special financing. CareCredit is now accepted at more than 260,000 provider and health-related merchant locations. CareCredit is a Synchrony solution. Synchrony is the largest provider of private label credit cards in the U.S. Visit carecredit.com to learn more.

    PYMNTS INTELLIGENCE

    PYMNTS Intelligence is a leading global data and analytics platform that uses proprietary data and methods to provide actionable insights on what’s now and what’s next in payments, commerce and the digital economy. Its team of data scientists include leading economists, econometricians, survey experts, financial analysts and marketing scientists with deep experience in the application of data to the issues that define the future of the digital transformation of the global economy. This multi-lingual team has conducted original data collection and analysis in more than three dozen global markets for some of the world’s leading publicly traded and privately held firms.

    The PYMNTS Intelligence team that produced this report:
    Scott Murray: SVP and Head of Analytics
    Story Edison, PhD: Senior Analyst
    Anna Sofia Martin: Senior Writer


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