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Gend Med. 2012 Dec;9(6):511-23. doi: 10.1016/j.genm.2012.10.008. Epub 2012 Nov 13.

A sex- and gender-based analysis of allostatic load and physical complaints.

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Fernand-Seguin Research Centre, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



Biological sex and sociocultural gender influence stress-related diseases. Our goal was to explore whether sex and gender roles would predict both allostatic load and physical complaints.


This study investigated whether sex- and gender-based factors would correspond to objective and subjective health outcomes.


Thirty Montreal workers (mean [SE] age, 45.4 [2.1] years) participated. The 30-item Bem Sex Role Inventory was administered to assess scores for masculinity and femininity, which were then transformed into an androgyny index representing gender roles along a continuum. Fifteen biomarkers representing neuroendocrine, immune, metabolic, and cardiovascular systems were aggregated into an allostatic load index measuring physiological dysregulations. The 42-item Wahler Physical Symptoms Inventory was used to measure self-rated physical complaints.


Results using logistic and linear regressions controlling for age revealed that increased masculinity predicted inclusion in the high allostatic load group (P = 0.010; odds ratio = 0.715), and sex did not; increased masculinity and female sex together predicted increased physical complaints (P = 0.008; adjusted r(2)= 0.30); and high allostatic load group membership corresponded to increased physical complaints adjusted (P = 0.001; adjusted r(2) = 0.301).


That higher masculinity was related to increased objective physiological dysregulations and subjective physical complaints suggests an increased vulnerability to hyperarousal pathologies, such as cardiovascular disease, among masculine-typed individuals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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