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Gender Differences in the Relationship between Pressure from Schoolwork and Health Complaints: a Three Country Study

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Pressure from schoolwork is associated with health complaints in primary and high school students. Girls are more likely to report high levels of pressure and experience frequent health complaints. However, the moderating effect of gender on the relationship between pressure and health complaints has not been fully explored. Logistic regression was used to examine the association between pressure from schoolwork and health complaints for a sample of 11–12 and 13–14-year-olds in Australia (N = 4723), England (N = 2734) and Spain (N = 3743), moderating for gender and controlling for family affluence and teacher support. Across the entire sample, a significant relationship between pressure and frequent health complaints was found (OR = 3.03, p < .001). Among students reporting a lot of pressure, differences between boys and girls in marginal odds of frequent health complaints were greater in Spain than in Australia or England (difference in log odds: Australia 0.426, p = .211; England 0.445, p = .821; Spain 1.044, p < .001). Pressure from schoolwork is an important issue for student mental health. This study suggests that the role of gender in moderating this relationship differs across countries. Differing national approaches to testing and grade repetition, as well as differences in macro-economic and social contexts, especially between Australia and England on the one hand, and Spain on the other, are discussed as possible explanations for these gender differences. More research is needed on how these factors influence boys’ and girls’ perceptions of pressure and stress associated with schoolwork.

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Fig. 1

Data Availability

Australian survey data used in this paper are available from the Australian Data Archive (Project number 01309; doi:10.26193/MGM2TM). Data from HBSC are available from the WHO HBSC data bank


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The authors wish to thank all the young people and schools who so generously participated in the studies reported in this paper. The authors are also grateful for comments and suggestions by participants at the HBSC meetings and the conference of the International Society for Child Indicators Research.


This work was supported by the Australian Research Council and Australian Government funding partners under Grant nos. LP120100543 and DP190100247. The England HBSC Study was supported by the UK Department of Health No. 201617.The Spanish HBSC was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Health and Consumption and Social Wellbeing. Irene García-Moya’s work has been supported by grant RYC-2017-21626, funded by MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033 and FSE “El FSE invierte en tu futuro”.

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Correspondence to Gerry Redmond.

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None of the authors have disclosed any conflicts of interests associated with the analysis in this paper.

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Redmond, G., García-Moya, I., Moreno, C. et al. Gender Differences in the Relationship between Pressure from Schoolwork and Health Complaints: a Three Country Study. Child Ind Res 15, 763–780 (2022).

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