Background: Some prior studies have reported that girls with cystic fibrosis (CF) experience higher morbidity and mortality compared to boys. In this study, the authors compared boys' and girls' perceptions of disease-related strains and resources associated with living with CF, and the relationship of these factors to CF treatment feelings and behaviors.
Methods: All 10-21 year olds with CF at the Minnesota Cystic Fibrosis Center were invited by mail to complete a new self-report survey (Living with CF Questionnaire--LCFQ). Of these 177 youth, 58% (49 boys and 54 girls) returned surveys.
Results: Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses revealed nine factors in the LCFQ. Partial support was found for hypothesized gender differences in these factors. Compared to boys, girls reported significantly more illness-related strains and worries, including emotional strains, greater treatment discouragement, lower self-esteem, and lower adherence to some aspects of the CF treatment regimen (coughing, eating high-fat foods, taking meds/pills).
Conclusions: Living with CF appears to have a greater emotional impact on adolescent girls compared to boys. These gender differences may contribute to the poorer pulmonary function observed among girls with cystic fibrosis during the adolescent years.