Healing Men and Community: Predictors of Outcome in a Men’s Initiatory and Support Organization
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- Burke, C.K., Maton, K.I., Mankowski, E.S. et al. Am J Community Psychol (2010) 45: 186. doi:10.1007/s10464-009-9283-3
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Men have poorer health and declining social outcomes when compared to women, and research suggests that behaviors related to restrictive and traditional male gender roles contribute to this disparity. This study is an examination of The ManKind Project International (MKPI), a community-based organization that provides alternative male gender norms and a community support system to help reinforce them. The MKPI runs an intensive, experiential “Training Adventure Weekend” (TAW), followed by voluntary, on-going peer-led support and integration groups (I-Groups). One hundred men completed a pre-TAW questionnaire, an interview, and a long-term follow-up (>18 mo.) questionnaire. The study examined if there was change on the primary study variables at follow-up, and the relationship of background characteristics (age, self-help group experience) and factors related to participation (MKPI beliefs, social support, I-Group participation) to the criterion variables (depression symptoms, gender role conflict, and life satisfaction) at follow-up. Results indicated significant change in the expected directions on the primary study variables, suggesting that for these men, participation has a positive impact. Most importantly, changes in MKPI-related beliefs and social support significantly predicted positive outcomes. Also, more positive outcomes were found among men 30–44 years of age, but not among those with more prior self-help experience or I-Group participation. Possible explanations for these findings and directions for further research are discussed.