Research News

Congressional caucus briefed on health disparities among boys and men

group portrait
Speakers at “Eliminating Health Disparities Among Men and Boys: forum May 24, 2016, in Washington, D.C. (left to right): Roland Thorpe, Wizdom Powell, Arthur Blume, Derek Griffith

Masculinity is important but it is not the reason boys and men of color or sexual minority males live shorter, sicker lives than their peers, said Vanderbilt professor Derek Griffith during a congressional briefing in Washington about health disparities among men and boys.

“Poor men, men of color, and gay men tend to be invisible when it comes to health policy yet hyper-visible when determining risk and blame for poor health,” said Griffith, director of the Center for Research on Men’s Health at Vanderbilt University.

“[rquote]We tend to want to blame masculinity for the poor health of vulnerable boys and men, but race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other factors create unique stressors that these groups of boys and men experience.”[/rquote]

The event, titled “Eliminating Health Disparities Among Men and Boys,” was sponsored by the American Psychological Association’s Working Group on Health Disparities in Boys and Men and the Congressional Men’s Health Caucus. The co-chairs of the caucus – U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr., D-N.J., and U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., attended.

The other speakers at the briefing were Arthur W. Blume, professor of psychology at Washington State University; Wizdom Powell, associate professor of health behavior at UNC Gillings School of Public Global Health; and Roland J. Thorpe, Jr., associate professor of health, behavior and society at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“There is no single or simple explanation for the poor health of vulnerable boys and men,” Griffith said. “We have to look at the complex sources of depression, suicide, violence and trauma among males. It’s not enough to just attack their masculinity.

“It’s important that we try to understand the unique factors that shape the health of vulnerable males and consider them in policies to improve their health.”