Preliminary Evaluation of a Gender-Transformative Healthy Relationships Program for Adolescent Boys

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A large body of research now demonstrates that socialization into traditional masculine gender norms can confine and harm the well-being of men and boys; thus, health promotion interventions that allow male-identified individuals to discuss and deconstruct these norms are needed. In terms of timing for such programs, adolescence is a critical period as boys are exploring, distilling, and solidifying how gender norms shape and affect their behaviors and relationships. However, evidence-based approaches that allow adolescent boys to critically reflect on how male norms have influenced their identity, behavior, and well-being are extremely limited. This brief report presents the within-groups (i.e., pre-experimental or without a control group) evaluation (n = 142) of a gender-transformative healthy relationships program for Grade 9 boys, WiseGuyz. After participating in the program, participants reported significant improvements in positive mental health (as indicated by emotional, social, and psychological well-being) and friendship closeness. However, no changes in negative emotionality were found. This study provides preliminary evidence that WiseGuyz is a promising approach for promoting the health and well-being of adolescent boys.

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