Masculinity, medical mistrust, and preventive health services delays among community-dwelling African-American men

J Gen Intern Med. 2010 Dec;25(12):1300-8. doi: 10.1007/s11606-010-1481-z. Epub 2010 Aug 17.

Abstract

Background: The contribution of masculinity to men's healthcare use has gained increased public health interest; however, few studies have examined this association among African-American men, who delay healthcare more often, define masculinity differently, and report higher levels of medical mistrust than non-Hispanic White men.

Objective: To examine associations between traditional masculinity norms, medical mistrust, and preventive health services delays.

Design and participants: A cross-sectional analysis using data from 610 African-American men age 20 and older recruited primarily from barbershops in the North, South, Midwest, and West regions of the U.S. (2003-2009).

Measurements: Independent variables were endorsement of traditional masculinity norms around self-reliance, salience of traditional masculinity norms, and medical mistrust. Dependent variables were self-reported delays in three preventive health services: routine check-ups, blood pressure screenings, and cholesterol screenings. We controlled for socio-demography, healthcare access, and health status.

Results: After final adjustment, men with a greater endorsement of traditional masculinity norms around self-reliance (OR: 0.77; 95% CI: 0.60-0.98) were significantly less likely to delay blood pressure screening. This relationship became non-significant when a longer BP screening delay interval was used. Higher levels of traditional masculinity identity salience were associated with a decreased likelihood of delaying cholesterol screening (OR: 0.62; 95% CI: 0.45-0.86). African-American men with higher medical mistrust were significantly more likely to delay routine check-ups (OR: 2.64; 95% CI: 1.34-5.20), blood pressure (OR: 3.03; 95% CI: 1.45-6.32), and cholesterol screenings (OR: 2.09; 95% CI: 1.03-4.23).

Conclusions: Contrary to previous research, higher traditional masculinity is associated with decreased delays in African-American men's blood pressure and cholesterol screening. Routine check-up delays are more attributable to medical mistrust. Building on African-American men's potential to frame preventive services utilization as a demonstration, as opposed to, denial of masculinity and implementing policies to reduce biases in healthcare delivery that increase mistrust, may be viable strategies to eliminate disparities in African-American male healthcare utilization.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / ethnology*
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Masculinity*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Preventive Health Services*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult