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Patients’ feelings of anger and shame are associated with gender role conflicts in conversations about sexuality during hospital stay

Komlenac, N1; Siller, H1; Bliem, HR2; Hochleitner, M1

1: Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria; 2: University of Innsbruck, Austria

Objective: The aim of the study was to analyze male patients’ feelings in conversations about sexual health issues during their hospital stay. Gender role conflict (GRC) was analyzed as one possible determinant for experiencing negative or positive feelings during such conversations.

Material and Methods: After obtaining ethical approval of the Medical University’s Ethics Committee a structured interview was conducted with 130 male in-patients (Mage = 59, SD = 15, range: 23 – 84) at the Department of Internal Medicine. Patients were asked about their sexual orientation, partner(s), sexual activity, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual dysfunctions and satisfaction with sexual health. After the interview patients filled out a questionnaire. They were asked whether the interview caused anger, annoyance, irritation, shame or relief. Further, the Gender Role Conflict Scale – Short Form was used to access men’s GRC. Logistic regression models were calculated to estimate the influence of GRC on feelings caused by the interview while controlling for age, education, nationality, sexual activity and sexual orientation.

Results: For 31% of patients the interview about sexual health issues had caused anger, irritation or annoyance. Restrictive emotionality (RE) was associated with these negative feelings (OR = 2.2 CI = 1.4 – 3.4). Shame was experienced by 15% of patients. RE (OR = 1.9 CI = 1.1 – 3.6) and avoidance of expressing positive affect to other men (OR = 1.8 CI = 1.1 – 3.0) were associated with the evocation of shame. Relief that was felt by 35% of patients was associated with avoidance of expressing positive affect to other men (OR = 1.4 CI = 1.0 – 1.9).

Conclusions: Men who experience GRC when expressing emotions are also likely to feel anger or shame in conversations about sexual health issues. Such topics may provoke patients to show weakness, vulnerability and worries. All these emotional expressions stand in conflict to traditional male gender role norms. It may be easier for men to be open to such topics if physicians focused more on male patients’ self-control and self-efficacy concerning matters of health.


Work supported by industry: no.

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