Beyond the Individual: Social and Cultural Influences on the Health-Seeking Behaviors of African American Men

Am J Mens Health. Jan-Feb 2019;13(1):1557988319829953. doi: 10.1177/1557988319829953.


Morbidity and mortality rates are alarmingly high among African American men and are influenced by the health-seeking behaviors of this population. This study examined data from 40 focus groups with African American men in Durham, North Carolina, to better understand social and cultural influences on health-seeking behaviors. Data were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. Three broad types of social/cultural influence on motivation to seek health care services were identified: family, culture and upbringing, and peers. Study findings confirm the importance of social relationships in influencing African American men's health-seeking behaviors and offer characterization of the nature of influence across different types of relationships, according to the direct support or indirect messages they provide. Future programs can draw on these data to inform efforts to include family and peers as well as utilize existing cultural gender norms to the advantage of health promotion for African American men.

Keywords: African American men; culture; focus groups; health-seeking behaviors; social influences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Men's Health / ethnology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • North Carolina
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Peer Group
  • Socioeconomic Factors