Gender Differences in Stress and Coping Among Adults Living in Hawai`i
Background and purpose. Stress has been recognized as a public health problem. However, little research has been done on gender differences in sources of stress and coping strategies in Hawaii. In this study, we hypothesized that: 1) women will report higher levels of stress than men; 2) women will report being stressed by family and health related stressors while men will report stress related to finances and work-related issues; 3) women will report using adaptive coping strategies more frequently while men will report using maladaptive and avoidance strategies more frequently; 4) there will be no gender differences in the readiness to use stress management strategies. Method. A statewide cross-sectional telephone-survey of 1518 participants was conducted during the spring and summer of 2006. Results. Women reported higher overall perceived stress levels, but there was no difference in the experienced social stressors and health stressors between genders. Men perceived more stress from personal factors. There were no gender differences in the perceived ability to cope with stress. However, women were more likely to use adaptive coping strategies, whereas men were more likely to use maladaptive and avoidance coping strategies. There were no significant gender differences in stages of change for stress management. Conclusion. Based on this study, interventions can be developed to help people better cope with stress. Interventions for women may focus on increasing the use of adaptive strategies such as praying and talking to friends and family, while interventions for men may introduce the use of adaptive coping strategies such as exercise and actively fighting causes of stress. This study shows that gender differences in stress levels and coping in Hawaii are similar to previous studies conducted on the mainland. More research into specific stressors and coping strategies may help tailor interventions that are more effective and comprehensive.