Background:

The role of conformity to masculine gender norms in health behaviors in men with multiple sclerosis (MS) has not received attention. This cross-sectional study explores these issues and their relationship to coping and health behaviors.

Methods:

Eighty-one men with MS completed the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory-46 and the Ways of Coping Questionnaire and provided demographic and clinical variables. These results were used to predict subscale scores of the Health Behavior Inventory-20 in multivariable regression models.

Results:

Models for the Preventive Self-care and Avoiding Anger and Stress subscales were successfully fit. For the former, respondents endorsing lower levels of masculine conformity related to Emotional Control and higher levels of Heterosexual Self-presentation predicted greater self-care, as did higher use of Positive Reappraisal as a coping strategy. For men reporting low levels of Positive Reappraisal as a coping strategy, increasing Heterosexual Self-presentation was associated with higher levels of self-care. For those with high levels of coping with Positive Reappraisals, increased Heterosexual Self-presentation was associated with modest declines in self-care. For the Avoiding Anger and Stress subscale score, men endorsing Violence or Heterosexual Self-presentation as important aspects of masculinity also reported less efforts in controlling stress and anger.

Conclusions:

Masculinity adherence to traditional gender norms was a significant predictor of how men engaged in health behaviors and, in the case of Preventive Self-care, was found to interact with Positive Reappraisal as a coping strategy. Such information is novel and important to providers serving male patients with MS and can improve provider awareness/conceptualization of male patient needs.

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