London: It's now confirmed. Women pop to the doctor more often than men "as they are the sicker sex".

A new study by researchers at the Public Health Agency of Barcelona has found that women did report health problems more often. However, they also suffered from a higher rate of chronic diseases.

The researchers said this disproved the theory that women tend to over- report health problems or pay more attention to their symptoms than men.

Writing in the latest 'European Journal of Public Health', they said: "These results suggest that the poorer self-rated health of women is a reflection of the higher burden of disease they suffer."

For their study, the researchers looked at data from Spain's 2006 National Health Survey, which included interviews with 29,000 people who covered a wide age-range.

They found 38.8 percent of women said their health was poor or very poor with 25.7 percent saying a chronic condition limited their activity. This compared to 27 percent of men who said they had poor health and 19.3 percent reporting a chronic condition, a daily reported.

However, this gender difference disappeared when the study matched how many chronic conditions each person had with their health rating.

Women were no more likely than men to claim to have poorer health than men when they had the same condition. Women were actually more likely to report better health than men when they'd the same number of conditions, says the study.

The researchers concluded: "A health system responsive to gender inequalities should increase its efforts in addressing and resolving musculoskeletal, mental and other pain disorders, usually less considered in favour of disorders with greater impact on mortality.”

(Agencies)