Cross-national variation of gender differences in adolescent subjective health in Europe and North America

Soc Sci Med. 2006 Feb;62(4):815-27. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.06.047. Epub 2005 Aug 11.


The cross-national consistency and variation of gender differences in subjective health complaints was examined in a sample of 125732 11- to 15-year-olds from 29 European and North American countries, participating in the WHO collaborative study 'Health behaviour in school-aged children (HBSC) 1997/98'. Health complaints were measured with the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Symptom Checklist. Gender differences in health complaints were analysed through multilevel logistic regression analysis. The results indicated a very robust pattern of increasing gender differences across age, with 15-year-old girls as a group at increased risk for health complaints across all countries. The magnitude of gender differences varied across countries, with some countries showing a consistently strong gender difference across age group and different health complaints, and other countries showing a consistently weak gender difference. The gender difference in health complaints was stronger in countries with a low gender development index score. The findings underscore the need to incorporate socio-contextual factors in the study of gender health inequalities during adolescence.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / ethnology
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Child
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / ethnology*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • North America / epidemiology
  • Psychology, Social
  • Risk Assessment
  • Self Concept*
  • Sex Factors