When males experience customer vulnerability: Masculine norms and value destruction in transformative health services

When males experience customer vulnerability in health services

Project dates: 2019 - 2022

This PhD research program aimed to quantitatively examine men’s experience of customer vulnerability across the lifespan when using transformative health services. The research also examined the role of masculine norms and value destruction in that experience. The research was conducted in three stages encompassing three quantitative studies examining the health services use of Australian males spanning four social generations; Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y/Millennials, and Generation Z.

Why is this important?

Health services such as primary healthcare and preventative health services can be transformative to customers’ health and well-being. Yet, in Australia and around the World compared to women, men have low use of such health services and poor health outcomes. Furthermore, compared to younger women, younger men’s health outcomes are alarming. The leading causes of early death for males indicate harmful, risky, yet potentially avoidable health behaviours are prevalent for men from a young age. Therefore, it would be beneficial to men’s health and service research to know how to engage with younger men and effectively encourage them to regularly access preventative health services, engendering change across their lifetime.

What did we do?

The research was conducted in three stages encompassing three quantitative studies:

In the first study, analyses were conducted on existing datasets of 14,917 males aged between 15 and 55 years. The panel data was from the study Ten to Men: Australia’s longitudinal study on male health (Ten to Men).

The second study also analysed data from the Ten to Men datasets of adult males (aged 18-55 years) (n = 13,891) over three timepoints across seven years. Three masculinity groups were identified and their likely and actual customer experience of vulnerability in preventative health services over time. Subjective health and well-being over time were also measured for each masculinity group.

Study 3 was an online survey of 296 young Australian young men (aged 18 to 42 years) (Generation Z and Generation Y/Millennials) for whom it had been 2 years or more since using a preventative health service, indicating value destruction. Modelling identified drivers for different levels of passive and active resistance value co-destruction behaviours when men use preventative health services and identified where across three stages of the customer journey (before, during, or after the service encounter) value destruction might be reduced for value co-destruction behaviours.

What did we find out?

This research was the first to find privileged groups assumed to be resilient, such as men, actually experience customer vulnerability. The research also found the effect of masculine norms on men’s health behaviour is highly dependent on service context, social generation, and conformity. Furthermore, this research was the first to find specific masculine norms and value destruction behaviours are key indicators of men’s customer experience of vulnerability and use of transformative health services.

Study 1, which encompassed four social generations of males from the Ten to Men datasets, examined conformity to traditional masculinity norms and regular and not regular use of primary and preventative health services to find:

  • while the overall global measure of traditional masculinity provides little explanation for men’s use of health services, conformity to specific traditional masculine norms predicts regular health service use for Millennial and Generation X males
  • the predictive roles of some specific traditional masculine norms have both positive and negative influences on regular health service use, depending on the service context and generation
  • traditional masculinity remains relevant for younger generations of Australian males who compared to older generations, had low use of preventative health services, and across the lifespan is influential in men’s avoidance of preventative health services, suggesting customer experience of vulnerability

Study 2, which  examined adult males from the Ten to Men  datasets, found:

  • in the context of primary preventative health service use (going to the doctor just for a check-up), men who conform to either traditional or modern masculinity are likely to experience customer vulnerability in the service
  • the experience is more likely for those with conformity to traditional masculine norms over time as it is prolonged
  • the prolonged customer experience of vulnerability for men with traditional self-reliant norms indicates low overall personal health and well-being

Study 3 examined young Australian Generation Z and Generation Y/Millennials men who avoid preventative health services finding:

  • four different resistance value co-destruction behaviours have a hierarchical relationship:
    • accidental and postponement behaviours are part of an overall concept of passive value destruction
    • rejection and opposition behaviours are part of an overall concept of active value co-destruction
  • specific perceived risks influence different value co-destruction behaviours
  • higher severity value co-destruction behaviours (active) can be reduced during the service encounter in the customer journey.

For more information contact: j.mcgraw@uq.edu.au

Chief Investigators