Few studies have investigated the experience of male carers of people with dementia and fewer specifically examined whether male and female carers of people with dementia differ in their approach to the caring role. As such, this research set-out to investigate whether male carers of people with dementia approach the caring role differently to female carers. Data from 167 survey participants (24 males and 143 females) were analysed using a mixed research methodology. Participants' demographics and scores on standardised burden and coping scales were analysed using linear regression. Participants' written responses to open-ended questions were analysed using thematic analysis anchored in theories of hegemonic masculinity. No significant gender differences were identified in carers' coping strategies or self-reported carer burden. However, qualitative analysis revealed strong thematic gender differences like: gendered barriers to help-seeking; gendered service preference; gendered considerations about residential care; gendered expression of burden; and themes of the absent son and exhausted daughter. This research identified that male carers of people with dementia approach help-seeking differently to female carers, typically focusing on addressing functional tasks and refraining from showing emotions, this despite reporting similar carer burden. Rapport building with male carers should start with conversations around functional issues rather than assessing the emotional impact of the caring role. The findings reinforce the need for more qualitative research into the unmet needs of male carers of people with dementia, to inform the design of male-friendly interventions which could facilitate timely access to services by male carers.
Keywords: carer; dementia; gender; help-seeking; male.