Men's health: U-M study shows how bad it is, why and what to do about it

April 29, 2003

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---At every age, American males have poorer health and a higher risk of mortality than females, according to a University of Michigan report published in the May 2003 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

"Men have higher age-adjusted death rates than women for the 15 leading causes of death in the U.S., with the exception of Alzheimer's disease," said sociologist David R. Williams, a senior research scientist at the U-M Institute for Social Research, the world's largest academic survey and research organization. "And both Black and white men have death rates at least twice as high as women for accidents, suicide, cirrhosis of the liver and homicide."

Although all men are doing poorly in terms of health, Williams noted that men with low incomes and educations, minority men with low incomes and educations, and middle-class Black men are at especially high risk.

The findings were reported April 29 in Washington, D.C., at a National Press Club briefing sponsored by the American Journal of Public Health and by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, which recently announced a new program to deliver health services to low-income men of color.

According to Williams, multiple factors contribute to the elevated health risks of men. These factors include economic marginality, adverse working conditions and gendered coping responses to stress that lead to high levels of substance use, other damaging behaviors and an aversion to protective health behaviors.

Compared to women, for example, men are more likely to smoke cigarettes (26 percent vs. 22 percent) and twice as likely to consume five or more drinks of alcohol in one day, Williams noted.

"Beliefs about masculinity and manhood that are deeply rooted in culture and supported by social institutions play a role in shaping the behavior patterns of men in ways that have negative consequences for their health," Williams said. "Men are socialized to project strength, individuality, autonomy, dominance, stoicism and physical aggression, and to avoid demonstrations of emotion or vulnerability that could be construed as weakness."

These cultural orientations, along with structural social inequalities that include the differential distribution of desirable occupational opportunities by race, contribute to the gender gap in health, according to Williams. Comparing the health of men to the health of women does not deny or minimize the pressing need to reduce health and social inequalities for women, especially women of color, Williams noted. But increasing awareness of the health challenges men also face is the first step to improving the living and working conditions that help to create those challenges.
Established in 1948, the Institute for Social Research (ISR) is among the world's oldest survey research organizations, and a world leader in the development and application of social science methodology. ISR conducts some of the most widely-cited studies in the nation, including the Survey of Consumer Attitudes, the National Election Studies, the Monitoring the Future Study, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the Health and Retirement Study, the Columbia County Longitudinal Study and the National Survey of Black Americans. ISR researchers also collaborate with social scientists in more than 60 nations on the World Values Surveys and other projects, and the Institute has established formal ties with universities in Poland, China, and South Africa. Visit the ISR Web site at for more information. ISR is also home to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the world's largest computerized social science data archive.


University of Michigan

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to