Gender roles and geographic location as predictors of emotional distress in Australian women

Paul Bramston, Cathy Rogers-Clark, Desley Hegney, Janet Bishop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the emotional distress of women in urban, rural and remote areas of Queensland. A randomised telephone survey of 394 women found that geographical location was not significantly related to perceptions of life quality or distress. Contrary to expectation, urbanisation and isolation were not significant predictors of mental health and factors other than geographical location appear more influential in determining people's emotional wellbeing. One such factor, the gender role that women perceive themselves as fulfilling, was examined in this study and found to be significantly related to emotional distress. Women who saw their role as being submissive, dependent, gentle and timid reported significantly higher rates of distress and women perceiving themselves as bossy, rude and superior reported higher stress, irrespective of where they lived. Scores for the positive gender role of being sensitive, emotional and responsible grew significantly higher as the respondents became more rural/remote. Conversely, scores in the bossy, rude and superior domain were significantly higher in urban areas. This paper discusses the limitations of health research using global urban/rural classification schemes based on size of town or distance from major centres. There is mounting evidence that geographically based classification schemes are essentially minimalist and that more complex grouping variables such as gender role need to be identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-160
Number of pages7
JournalThe Australian journal of rural health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


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