Design and validation of a questionnaire to measure traditional gender norms and their impact on health and well-being

Project lead: Rosa M Limiñana Gras, University of Murcia

Participating universities: University of Florence, University of Murcia, Nantes Université

General Overview

The purpose of this project is to provide a new understanding of gender that is more concrete and operational, enabling the effective incorporation of a gender perspective in health research. To do so, the project aims to design and validate a questionnaire that measures traditional gender norms, consistent with the proposed theoretical framework.

Purpose and Significance

The concept of gender traditionally refers to characteristics attributed to men and women that are historically and culturally constructed, are not static and vary from one society to another. The construction of gender, in interaction with sexual and biological differences, creates conditions, situations and health-related problems that are different for women and men, as individuals and as groups. There is, therefore, a close relationship between health and gender, which in interaction with other determinants of health (age, country, culture, socioeconomic status, etc.) can determine, and therefore explain, the health and well-being of men and women.

We know that biological sex influences health, hence the importance of analysing health research data and results disaggregated by sex. We also know that gender influences health. The different roles or responsibilities that society assigns to men or women at any particular time, by the fact of being male or female, can lead to consequences on their health behaviours depending on their internalisation of and conformity to these roles. It is this certainty that moves us to find a valid and reliable way of assessing gender that accounts for this acceptance of these roles or norms linked to the fact of being a man or a woman.

The integration of sex and gender in health analysis and research, or in other words, the gender perspective in health, therefore requires measuring not only the sex variable, but also the gender variable at all stages of the process: from the identification and operationalisation of the study variables, through the data collection processes and ending with the presentation of the results. This is the challenge the project will address: to identify and operationalise the traditional gender norms that are still a powerful determinant of health and well-being in adolescent, young and adult men and women.

Implementation Method and Timeline

The project will begin by elaborating the State of the Art: collecting current evidence on traditional gender norms and their measurement to update the conceptual framework. Next, the measurement variables (gender norms) will be defined and operationalised, followed by a table of specifications, items and scales. All of these tasks will be carried out by the lead partner: University of Murcia.

The outcomes of the initial tasks will be validated by experts at the University of Florence, University of Murcia and Nantes Université, then will be translated into Spanish, French and Italian. Pilot studies (both qualitative and quantitative) will then be carried out by each institution. Each partner will produce a final validated version in its own language: Spanish, French and Italian.

Expected Outcomes

The project outputs will be a framework on the relationship between gender, health and well-being, and a new gender questionnaire based on conformity to traditional male and female gender norms in the most relevant dimensions of human behaviour. These will improve understanding of gender as a determinant of men's and women's health and well-being, in interaction with other determinants of health (age, country, culture, socio-economic status, etc.). They will also provide a starting point for the subsequent adaptation of this gender measure to Europe as a whole.  This will allow the gender variable to be operationally incorporated into health research from the outset, and not just as part of the final discussions around sex-based differences. Both results will contribute to research from a comprehensive gender perspective/approach, providing evidence for the development of more equitable health policies.