Associations between conformity to masculine norms and depression: age effects from a population study of Australian men

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Abstract

Background: Strict adherence to masculine norms has been associated with deleterious consequences for the physical and mental health of men. However, population-based research is lacking, and it remains unclear whether ageing influences adherence to masculine norms and the extent to which mental health problems like depression are implicated. Methods: This study reports on data from 14,516 males aged 15–55 years who participated in Wave 1 of the Australian Longitudinal Study of Male Health (Ten to Men). Group differences in self-reported conformity to masculine norms (CMNI-22), current depressive symptoms (PHQ-9), and self-reported 12-month depression history were examined for males aged 15–17 years, 18–25 years, 26–35 years, 36–50 years, and 51–55 years. Generalised linear models were used to examine the relationships between these variables across age groups. Results: Conformity to masculine norms decreased significantly with age. However, models predicting depression generally showed that higher conformity to masculine norms was associated with an increased risk of current depressive symptoms, especially in the oldest age group. Conversely, higher conformity was associated with a decreased likelihood of a self-reported 12-month depression history, although nuances were present between age groups, such that this trend was not evident in the oldest age group. Conclusions: Findings provide important insights into the complex relationship between conformity to masculine norms and depressive symptoms across the lifespan and further highlight the importance of mental health campaigns that address the complexities of gendered help-seeking behaviour for men.

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Herreen, D., Rice, S., Currier, D., Schlichthorst, M., & Zajac, I. (2021). Associations between conformity to masculine norms and depression: age effects from a population study of Australian men. BMC Psychology, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-021-00533-6

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