Gender Differences in the Social Functioning of Adolescents with Inflammatory Bowel Disease
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Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been associated with social difficulties. Boys with IBD may have increased risk for social problems due to delayed growth and puberty, but gender differences in social functioning have not been investigated. This study examined gender differences in multiple areas of social functioning for adolescents with IBD compared to healthy adolescents. Participants were 92 adolescents 11–17 years (50 with IBD, 42 healthy) and parents who completed questionnaires assessing social functioning. IBD was associated with poorer social functioning in the areas of social competence and social problems. Boys with IBD had worse social competence, with no gender differences for social problems. Gender predicted the use of social contact as a coping strategy, but no significant group differences were found for other areas of social functioning. Adolescents with IBD experience significant social difficulties in some areas, and boys are at risk for poor social competence. However, previously reported social difficulties may not extend to all areas of social functioning.