Year of Publication
OBJECTIVE: Boys outnumber girls in short stature evaluations and growth hormone treatment despite absence of gender differences in short stature prevalence. Family views on short stature influence medical management, but gender-based analysis of these views is lacking. This study explored endocrine patients' and their parents' perceptions of short stature and its impact on quality of life by patient gender.
METHODS: Patients aged 8-14 years undergoing provocative growth hormone testing and one parent each completed semi-structured interviews. Clinical data were extracted by chart review.
RESULTS: 24 patient-parent dyads (6 female patients, 22 mothers; predominantly non-Hispanic White) participated. Six major themes emerged: 1) patients' perceptions of their short stature were similar by gender, 2) physical experiences of short stature were similar by gender, 3) social experiences of short stature were both similar and different by gender, 4) parental perceptions of short stature as a factor limiting their child's functionality were similar by gender, 5) concern about societal stigma related to short stature arose for both genders, and 6) patients' perceptions of parental messaging about the import of their short stature were similar by gender.
CONCLUSION: Our data reveal more similarities than differences between genders in patient perceptions and patient and parent-reported experiences of short stature. Worry about stature-related stigma was noted for patients of both genders. Parental messaging about short stature emerged as an important area to explore further by patient gender. Our findings suggest that clinicians should be wary of making gender or stigma-based assumptions when evaluating children with short stature.