Masculinity Beliefs and Colorectal Cancer Screening in Male Veterans
As the third most common cause of cancer death among U.S. men, colorectal cancer (CRC) represents a significant threat to men’s health. Although adherence to CRC screening has the potential to reduce CRC mortality by approximately half, men’s current rates of adherence fall below national screening objectives. In qualitative studies, men have reported foregoing screenings involving the rectum (e.g., colonoscopy) due to concern about breaching masculinity norms. However, the extent to which masculinity beliefs predict men’s CRC screening adherence has yet to be examined. The current study tested the hypothesis that greater endorsement of masculinity beliefs (i.e., self-reliance, risk-taking, heterosexual self-presentation, and primacy of work) would be associated with a lower likelihood of adherence to CRC screening with any test and with colonoscopy specifically. Participants were 327 men ages 51–75 years at average risk for CRC who were accessing primary care services at a midwestern Veterans Affairs medical center. Contrary to hypotheses, masculinity beliefs did not predict CRC screening outcomes in hierarchical regression analyses that controlled for demographic predictors of screening. Although results are largely inconsistent with masculinity theory and prior qualitative findings, further research is needed to determine the degree to which findings generalize to other populations and settings.