Gender Role Orientation Is Associated with Health-Related Quality of Life Differently Among African-American, Hispanic, and White Youth

Published in: Quality of Life Research, v. 24, 2015, p. 2139-2149

Posted on RAND.org on March 09, 2015

by Sarah M. Scott, Jan Wallander, Sarah Depaoli, Marc N. Elliott, Jo Anne Grunbaum, Susan R. Tortolero, Paula Cuccaro, Mark A. Schuster

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PURPOSE: This study examined the association between gender role orientation (GRO) and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in youth, and how this relationship may differ between males and females as well as among African-American, White, and Hispanic individuals. GRO has been reported to influence serious health outcomes including cancer, heart disease, mental illness, and mortality rates. However, few studies have examined the link between GRO and health outcomes for children, even though gender identity is formed in childhood. METHODS: Data were examined from 4824 participants in the Healthy Passages™ project, a population-based survey of fifth-grade children in three US metropolitan areas. Children reported their own HRQOL using the PedsQL and degree of female, male, and androgynous GRO using the Children's Sex Role Inventory. RESULTS: Based on structural equations analysis, male GRO was positively associated with HRQOL for all racial/ethnic groups, regardless of sex, whereas female GRO was associated with better HRQOL for Hispanic and White females and poorer HRQOL for Hispanic males. Androgynous GRO was associated with better HRQOL among Hispanic and White females, but not males nor African-Americans of either sex. CONCLUSIONS: Racial/ethnic differences emerged for female and androgynous, but not male, GROs. Hispanic males are the only group for which GRO (female) was associated with poorer HRQOL. Future research should find ways to help youth overcome negative effects on health from gender beliefs and behavior patterns with sensitivity to racial/ethnic membership.

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