Physical health of young, Australian women: A comparison of two national cohorts surveyed 17 years apart Academic Article uri icon


  • Very little is known about the extent of physical health issues among young women in early adulthood and whether this is changing over time.We used data from two national samples of young women aged 18-23 years, surveyed 17 years apart, who participated in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. We used multinomial logistic regression to compare the women's physical health (i.e., self-rated health, common symptoms and conditions) and identify whether sociodemographic factors, health behaviours and stress explained any physical health differences between the samples.Women aged 18-23 years in 2013 (N = 17,069) were more likely to report poor self-rated health and physical symptoms (particularly urogenital and bowel symptoms) than women aged 18-23 years in 1996 (N = 14,247). Stress accounted for a large proportion of the physical health differences between the cohorts, particularly for allergies, headaches, self-rated health, severe tiredness, skin problems, severe period pain and hypertension.Women's health appears to be changing, with young women born in more recent decades reporting greater physical symptom levels. Changing socio-cultural and economic conditions may place pressure on young adults, negatively affecting their health and wellbeing. Assessing the extent to which social structures and health care policies are offering adequate support to young women may offer avenues for promoting positive health and wellbeing.

publication date

  • 2015