Individual Differences in Adolescent Health Symptoms: The Effects of Gender and Coping

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Previous studies have suggested that adult men and women experience different types and severities of physical and psychological health symptoms. This study examined whether in the case of adolescents these reported gender differences in physical and psychological health symptoms could actually be the result of differences in coping styles. Five hundred and forty-six adolescents were questioned on their coping styles and symptoms. We found gender differences in physical and psychological health symptoms (e.g. anger, depression, tension, negative moods), as well as in coping styles. We also found that the relation between health symptoms and coping varied significantly by gender. The results of this study suggest that doctors, school counselors and family therapists may want to take gender differences in coping styles into account when seeing adolescent patients for physical or psychological health symptoms, and find ways to help the adolescents cope more effectively with their stressors.