Introduction Teachers are facing various types of strain. Research of gender differences in teachers’ health is scarce and not conclusive so far. The aim of this study was to assess gender differences in teachers’ perceived physical and mental strain within the framework of a psychological risk assessment.
Methods A standardised questionnaire was handed out in 13 schools in Bavaria, Germany. Amongst other items, frequencies of diverse physical strain were assessed by a 6-point scale ranging from ‘daily’ to ‘never/almost never’. The same scale served for assessing frequencies of mental strain. Gender differences were measured using Chi-square test.
Result 359 questionnaires were completed (return rate 45.4%). 91 participants were male, 262 female (6 missing values). Main outcomes for physical strain in men were neck tension (22.0%), sleeping disorders (16.5%) and headache (12.1%). Women also stated neck tension at most (36.6%), followed by back pain (25.6%) and sleeping disorders (16.8%). Main outcomes for mental strain in men were feeling under time pressure (58.2%) and exhausted/tired (49.5%), followed by feeling tense and rushed (42.9%, each). Women also stated feeling under time pressure (54.6%) and feeling exhausted/tired (52.3%), followed by feeling rushed (38.9%). Chi-square test didn’t show significant gender differences in mental strain. Regarding physical strain, significant differences in men and women were found for neck tension (p=0.042) and back pain (p=0.025).
Conclusion Based on the sample, conclusions have to be drawn with care. Nevertheless, results suggest that there are gender differences in neck tension and back pain. In order to carry out sustainable interventions promoting teachers’ health based on psychological risk assessments, possible influence by gender aspects should be taken into consideration or ruled out. However, further studies are needed to take profound action.