Life-stress and reactivity by gender in a longitudinal birth cohort at 30 and 35 years
McLeod, Geraldine F. H.; Horwood, L. John; Fergusson, David M.; Boden, Joseph M.
Purpose: Previous literature has shown gender differences in reactivity to stressful life events. However, it is unclear whether gender differences in stress reactivity are consistent across a series of life event domains among longitudinal adult sample populations. Methods: Data were gathered from the Christchurch Health and Development Study (CHDS). The CHDS is a longitudinal birth cohort of 1265 children born in 1977 in Christchurch, New Zealand. Cohort members were questioned on their experience of, and distress from, a series of life event domains (interpersonal problems; victimization; illness/death; pregnancy/parenthood; employment/finance problems) spanning two age-periods 25–30 years (data collected in 2007) and 30–35 years (data collected in 2012). The data were pooled across observations and analyzed using population-averaged repeated-measures regression methods. Results: Overall, men and women reported experiencing similar numbers of life events for each domain. However, men reported more victimization and more employment/financial problems; women reported more illness/death events. Women reported experiencing more distress per life event for the domains of interpersonal problems, illness/death and pregnancy/parenthood. Men and women reported similar distress per life event for the victimization and employment/finance domains. The results were robust to control for: child and adolescent factors (childhood abuse exposure; adolescent personality; mental health) and adult factors (mental health; self-esteem). Conclusion: These findings are consistent with a growing body of evidence indicating that some life events including interpersonal problems, illness/death and pregnancy/parenthood may be intrinsically more distressing for women. Detection of life event distress is important to aid in the prevention of mental/physical health problems.
Publisher: Springer Nature
Rights Statement: This version in OUR Archive is the author's manuscript accepted for publication after peer-review. The published version is: McLeod, G. F. H., Horwood, L. J., Fergusson, D. M., & Boden, J. M. (2016). Life-stress and reactivity by gender in a longitudinal birth cohort at 30 and 35 years. Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology, 51(10), 1385-1394. doi: 10.1007/s00127-016-1254-z
Research Type: Journal Article