Men’s Perspectives of a Gender-Sensitized Health Promotion Program Targeting Healthy Eating, Active Living, and Social Connectedness

Publication Type:
Journal Article
American Journal of Men's Health, 2018, 12 (6), pp. 2157 - 2166
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© The Author(s) 2018. Men in high income countries have poorer dietary habits and higher rates of overweight and obesity than women. A major challenge with engaging men in health promotion is the perception that attention to one’s health runs counter to masculine identities. Contemporary health promotion programs are believed to hold little “manly” appeal and often fail to engage and retain men. The HAT TRICK program was designed to engage men with their health by delivering an intervention in collaboration with a semi-professional ice hockey team. The program included 12 weekly sessions promoting healthy eating, active living, and social connectedness among men. Gender-sensitized elements were reflected in the program design, setting, content, and delivery. Semistructured telephone interviews were conducted with 23 men to explore perspectives of their participation in the gender-sensitized intervention. Participants were white (100%) with a mean age of 53 years (SD ± 9.9), Body Mass Index (BMI) of 37 kg/m2 (SD ± 6.8), and waist circumference of 127 centimeters (SD ± 14.5). Inductive thematic analysis revealed three overarching themes, including: (a) Harnessing nostalgia for past masculinities: “Closet athletes from 30 years ago,” (2) Offsetting resistance to change with sensible health advice: “Don’t give up drinking beer, just have less,” and (3) Gendered social spaces for doing health: “A night out with the guys,” The findings support the value of gender-sensitized approaches to men’s health promotion. Further research is needed to identify which gender-sensitized elements are critical to engaging men in healthy lifestyle changes.
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