Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Health-Promoting Behaviors in Men Age 45 and Above

Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Health-Promoting Behaviors in Men Age 45 and Above

Article excerpt

The purpose of this research was to examine and explain health-promoting behaviors among middle-aged and older men. The Health Promotion Model (HPM) was used as the framework for this study. Surveys were used to measure perceived benefits, perceived barriers, self-efficacy, demographic factors, self-rated health (independent variables), and health-promoting behaviors (dependent variables). A multiple linear regression model revealed 66% of the variation in total health-promoting behaviors (HPB) accounted for by the independent variables. Models for exercise HPB and nutrition HPB showed 65% and 53% of the variance explained by the independent variables. Partial correlations determined that self-efficacy was the single most important predictor in all three models. Interventions to enhance men's self-efficacy for health-promoting behaviors should be developed and studies for impact on behavior and health carried out.

Keywords: men's health-promoting behaviors, self-efficacy, health-promotion model

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In the United States, there are significant differences between men's and women's health. Men suffer higher rates of acute and chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and AIDS; are involved in more car crashes and occupation-related accidents; and are more likely than women to be overweight, drink heavily, and smoke cigarettes. Premature mortality (deaths before age 65) is 50% higher for men; men age 45-64 are three times more likely than women to suffer fatal coronary events.

Tendencies for higher male mortality persist or increase with aging, as men age 65-84 are twice as likely as women to have fatal coronary events. For cancer, the gender disparity in death rates widens as men age. While cancer death rates for men age 45-54 are only slightly higher than rates for women, at age 55-64, male cancer death rates are 25% higher; at 65-74, 50% higher, and at 75-84, 70% higher. Men have higher death rates in all of the 10 leading causes of death, resulting in a 5.5-year-lower life expectancy for men (National Center for Health Statistics, 2004). These differences constitute health disparities, and by definition render men as a vulnerable population in terms of health. According to de Chesney (2005), vulnerable populations are those with a greater-than-average risk of developing health problems by virtue of some factor, in this case male gender.

Why do men die sooner than women? The answers are likely related to the combination and interaction of behavioral, biological, social, and environmental factors (Jones, 2001; USDHHS, 2000). Possible explanations for gender differences in mortality include protective factors within female sex chromosomes, more environmental hazards for men, men's reluctance to seek healthcare, and poorer health behaviors among men (Loeb, 2004). Courtenay (2000) proposed that most gender differences in mortality can be explained by men's behaviors, although interaction between genetics and behavioral factors may account for most of these differences (Hazzard, 2000).

Little attention has been paid to health-promoting practices as men make the transition from the middle to the later years of their life. Middle age represents a time when individuals start to acknowledge their own aging, may face health problems for the first time, and begin to feel vulnerable. This developmental period can pose a crisis, with the potential for opportunity and threat (Levinson, 1986). Healthy behaviors in middle age, carried through to later years, have a profound impact on psychological, social, and physical well-being, potentially extending and improving quality of life (Fries, 1999).

Men's health literature documents differences in health behaviors, morbidity, and mortality but is largely devoid of a theoretical explanation (Denton & Waiters, 1999; Reed, Foley, White, Heimovitz, Burchfiel, & Masaki, 1998). The Health Promotion Model (HPM), originally developed in the 1980s by Nola Pender, served as the theoretical framework for this study of men's health-promoting behavior. …

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