Masculinity may have negative health implications in male veterans with post-traumatic stress. According to a new study conducted by Jay Morrison of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, male veterans who are under stress to maintain masculine conformity may experience more severe symptoms of PTSD, which in turn can elevate their risk for cardiac problems. “A portion of this association may be explained by direct physiological alterations found in PTSD that place individuals at greater risk for cardiac illnesses,” said Morrison. “However, PTSD and symptoms of the disorder also have been associated with an increase in negative health behaviors that place individuals at elevated risk for the development of CVD (cardiovascular disease), such as smoking, alcohol and other drug use, non-adherence to prescription medication regimens and reduced physical activity.”
Morrison evaluated 197 male veterans using a number of clinical tools, including the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory, the Masculine Gender Role Stress Scale (MGSR) and the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-Military version, as well as tests designed to measure behaviors that would directly affect cardiac health. Morrison found that the veterans who displayed higher levels of masculinity, or the need to conform to male gender roles, had increased levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms. Additionally, Morrison discovered that increased stress to conform with the masculine gender role was directly related to negative health behaviors. Morrison believes that this segment of the population is especially vulnerable because of the expectations of masculinity in the military culture. One test was of particular importance to Morrison. He said, “The Emotional Inexpressiveness subscale of the MGSR was uniquely associated with probable PTSD symptom severity, suggesting that emotional inexpressiveness associated with the male gender role may contribute to the failure of emotional processing relevant to the etiology and maintenance of PTSD.”
Morrison, J. A. (2011, June 27). Masculinity Moderates the Relationship Between Symptoms of PTSD and Cardiac-Related Health Behaviors in Male Veterans. Psychology of Men & Masculinity. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0024186
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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