The purpose of this study was to examine differences in knowledge about menstruation, feelings of preparation for menarche, and menstrual attitudes of early adolescent girls from different ethnic groups and income levels. An interaction between ethnicity and income level was also investigated. Participants were 165 postmenarcheal adolescent girls’ (ages 11–15) from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, who were categorized into four groups: higher income European Americans, lower income European Americans, higher income African Americans, and lower income African Americans. It was predicted that African Americans, lower income participants, and lower income African Americans would score lower on a menstrual knowledge test, report feeling less prepared for menarche, and report more negative menstrual attitudes (i.e., fewer positive feelings about menstruation, more negative feelings about menstruation, and less openness toward menstruation) than European Americans, higher income participants, and any other income level and ethnicity grouping. Not all hypotheses were fully supported. Participants’ lacked accurate menstrual knowledge and felt unprepared for menarche, but menstrual attitudes were ambivalent. Ethnicity and income level alone did not play a substantial role in girls’ understanding of menarche and menstruation; however, they did interact. Overall, higher income European Americans fared better than the other participants. Theories and research regarding girls’ understanding of menarche and menstruation must take sociocultural factors into account.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: May 4, 2012
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