Masculinity, Medical Mistrust, and Preventive Health Services Delays Among Community-Dwelling African-American Men

African-American men who expect racially-biased treatment are more likely to put off routine check-ups.

Compared with white men, African-American men die sooner and more frequently from preventable disease. Two psychosocial factors, mistrust of the medical profession and masculine self-identification, may cause Black men to delay preventive care.

This cross-sectional study examined whether feeling more masculine or mistrusting medical institutions caused African-American men to delay using preventive health services. The study took place from 2003-2009. Male customers in local barbershops and students from a historically Black university and a community college participated. Each participant completed a survey that assessed his views of masculinity, (e.g. “a man should never doubt his own judgment"); a second survey asked about the salience (i.e., importance) of masculinity to each respondent’s overall sense of identity. The Medical Mistrust Index, a 14-item survey, measured mistrust in health care organizations.

Key Findings:

  • When self-reliance was important to a respondent’s sense of masculinity, he was less likely to delay blood-pressure screening.
  • Men from academic institutions had higher levels of medical mistrust.

This study investigated associations between masculine self-identification, medical mistrust and delays in seeking preventive services among African-American men.