The potential influence of masculine identity on health-improving behavior in midlife and older African American men

Steven P. Hooker, Sara Wilcox, Ericka L. Burroughs, Carol E. Rheaume, Will Courtenay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: To gain a greater understanding of masculinity and its potential influence on health-improving behavior in midlife and older African American (AA) men. Methods: Forty-nine AA men aged 45-88 years completed in-depth interviews to ascertain their perspectives on masculinity, how masculine identity in this population might be influenced by age and physical activity level, or how it might impact health. Taped interviews were transcribed and organized for analysis with common themes identified by multiple researchers. Results: Most often cited attributes of someone considered "manly" included a leader of a family/household, provider, strong work ethic, and masculine physique. Terms such as responsible, principled, and man of character also described the typical man. Potential negative and positive influences of manhood on health included avoiding health care appointments and being a good example to children/others, respectively. Themes associated with age-related changes in manhood were acceptance and being more health conscious. Elements associated with how manhood was influenced by AA race included stress and perseverance. Conclusions: Midlife and older AA men in this study primarily expressed views of masculinity that fit the traditional perception of manhood. However, the attributes revealed, such as family provider, responsibility, self-reliance, and perseverance, were viewed as having potential for both negative and positive impacts on health and health-improving behaviors. It will be essential to integrate these prevalent attributes of masculine identity into health promotion interventions such that they facilitate positive behavior change while not competing with gender role norms among this vulnerable group of men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-88
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Men's Health
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Black males
  • Health promotion
  • Masculinity
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology

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