How Does Masculinity Impact on Health? A Quantitative Study of Masculinity and Health Behavior in a Sample of UK Men and Women

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Abstract

Masculinity is implicated in men's health practices (e.g., Courtenay, 2000). However, there is little quantitative work in the U.K. that examines this relationship for both men and women. This study addressed this gap in the literature and examined the moderating effect of gender on the relationship between elements of masculinity and positive (physical activity, unsaturated fat, fruit, and fiber) and negative (smoking, alcohol, and saturated fat intake) health behaviors. A community sample of 182 men and 274 women (mean age = 35.89 years) were recruited from a call center and a local authority in the North East of England. Participants completed self-report measures of Masculine Gender Role Stress (MGRS), Male Role Norms (MRN), Extended Personal Attributes (EPAQ), and Health Behaviors. Hierarchical regression analysis controlled for the effects of age, education, and ethnicity and revealed that aspects of masculinity measured by the MGRSS and the MRNS predicted worse health behaviors for both men and women (i.e., lower levels of positive health behaviors and higher levels of negative health behaviors), although these relationships were more numerous and stronger for men. Agency traits measured by the EPAQ were predictive of increased physical activity regardless of gender, and less saturated fat intake for men. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for and applications to health promotion.

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