Gender Stereotypes and Preconception Health: Men’s and Women’s Expectations of Responsibility and Intentions to Engage in Preventive Behaviors

Susan Mello, Andy S.L. Tan, Ashley Sanders-Jackson, Cabral Aziza Bigman-Galimore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Introduction As mounting evidence underscores the importance of both men and women taking steps before pregnancy to improve reproductive outcomes, public health priorities are shifting toward a more gender-inclusive program of promoting preconception health (PCH). This study examined whether prescriptive gender stereotypes, defined as men’s and women’s beliefs about PCH behavioral norms each gender should uphold, were positively associated with intentions to engage in behaviors to protect a future child’s health. Methods Data came from a June 2017 online survey of 609 U.S. men and women ages 18–44. Two six-item scales of prescriptive same- and opposite-gender stereotypes were used to predict a six-item scale of intentions to engage in six recommended PCH behaviors (i.e., avoiding smoking, secondhand smoke, drinking, exposure to bisphenol A and pesticides, and preventing Zika infection). Multiple linear regression models also adjusted for demographic, socioeconomic, and health characteristics. Results Among both male and female respondents, PCH prescriptive gender stereotypes for men were rated significantly lower than those for women. Adjusting for covariates, stronger prescriptive same-gender stereotypes were associated with increased PCH intentions (men: B = 0.496, p < 0.001; women: B = 0.486, p < 0.001). Opposite-gender stereotypes were also positively associated with PCH intentions (men: B = 0.205, p < 0.001; women: B = 0.235, p < 0.001). Current every day smoking status (men and women), being uninsured (women only), and having children (women only) were also associated with lower PCH intentions. Conclusion Prescriptive gender stereotypes may play an important, yet slightly different, role in promoting PCH behavior among men and women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-469
Number of pages11
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 15 2019

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Men's Health
Women's Health
Health
Health Behavior
Linear Models
Smoking
Health Priorities
Tobacco Smoke Pollution
Women's Rights
Pesticides
Drinking
Public Health
Demography
Pregnancy

Keywords

  • Communication
  • Gender roles
  • Health education and promotion
  • Norms
  • Preconception health
  • Prescriptive gender stereotypes
  • Responsibility
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Gender Stereotypes and Preconception Health : Men’s and Women’s Expectations of Responsibility and Intentions to Engage in Preventive Behaviors. / Mello, Susan; Tan, Andy S.L.; Sanders-Jackson, Ashley; Bigman-Galimore, Cabral Aziza.

In: Maternal and child health journal, Vol. 23, No. 4, 15.04.2019, p. 459-469.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "Introduction As mounting evidence underscores the importance of both men and women taking steps before pregnancy to improve reproductive outcomes, public health priorities are shifting toward a more gender-inclusive program of promoting preconception health (PCH). This study examined whether prescriptive gender stereotypes, defined as men’s and women’s beliefs about PCH behavioral norms each gender should uphold, were positively associated with intentions to engage in behaviors to protect a future child’s health. Methods Data came from a June 2017 online survey of 609 U.S. men and women ages 18–44. Two six-item scales of prescriptive same- and opposite-gender stereotypes were used to predict a six-item scale of intentions to engage in six recommended PCH behaviors (i.e., avoiding smoking, secondhand smoke, drinking, exposure to bisphenol A and pesticides, and preventing Zika infection). Multiple linear regression models also adjusted for demographic, socioeconomic, and health characteristics. Results Among both male and female respondents, PCH prescriptive gender stereotypes for men were rated significantly lower than those for women. Adjusting for covariates, stronger prescriptive same-gender stereotypes were associated with increased PCH intentions (men: B = 0.496, p < 0.001; women: B = 0.486, p < 0.001). Opposite-gender stereotypes were also positively associated with PCH intentions (men: B = 0.205, p < 0.001; women: B = 0.235, p < 0.001). Current every day smoking status (men and women), being uninsured (women only), and having children (women only) were also associated with lower PCH intentions. Conclusion Prescriptive gender stereotypes may play an important, yet slightly different, role in promoting PCH behavior among men and women.",
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