MEN'S AND WOMEN'S HEALTH: THE ROLE OF GENDER ROLE AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS ON GENDER DIFFERENTIALS IN HEALTH BEHAVIOURS
 
Ho, R., Davidson, G. and Ghea-White, V., Central Queensland University, Australia
 
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (1992), men's mortality rates have consistently proved to be higher than women's for most of the leading causes of death in Australia. In accounting for this gender differential in mortality statistics, research has identified the male gender role and socio-economic status (SES) as the two most important indicators of premature death among Australian males. This socio- psychological perspective hypothesises that (1) many behaviours, which are hazardous to one's health, are seen as compatible with the traditional male role, and (2) those of lower SES adopt less healthy lifestyles and are therefore more susceptible to health risks. While these hypotheses are based on observed group mean differences on measurement variables (e.g., gender differences in mean scores on measures of gender roles), the present study extends this simplistic examination of such group differences to the assessment of the outcomes of these groups' differentials on health behaviours. This study employed multi-group path analysis to investigate gender differences in the hypothesised relationships between the exogenous variables of gender roles and SES, the mediator variables of social support, information seeking, health attitudes, and depression, and the criterion variables of self-care and risky health behaviour. Results indicated significant gender differences for the posited model as a whole, and lend further support to the suggestion that both gender role and SES may be important contributors to the observed gender differential in mortality statistics. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (1992). Australia's health 1992: The third biennial report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.