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Current gendered health disparities impacting the wellbeing of boys and young men require new early intervention-focussed approaches. Health promotion programs developed with young men’s health needs and preferences in mind commonly report positive outcomes. Male-specific rite of passage programs aim to formally acknowledge the life-stage transition from boyhood to manhood through a holistic focus on identity, community, and social responsibility. While these programs are growing in popularity, there is limited data available on their effectiveness.
This study undertook a pilot evaluation of the Making of Men rite of passage program in a sample of second-ary school boys (n=61, age M=16.0, SD=0.5) and their accompanying fathers or male mentors (n=47, age M=52.1, SD=5.8 years) providing non-matched pre-test, post-test, alongside follow-up data for participating boys. Qualitative interviews were also undertaken with 15 individuals (5 mothers, 6 staff members, 4 fathers).
Quantitative program feedback indicated acceptability, with most respondents providing positive feedback, particularly from participating fathers. Exploratory quantitative effects indicated potential improvements in subjective social support and open communication among boys. Fathers appeared to report lower confor-mity to traditional masculine norms post-program, in addition to more open communication. Qualitative interviews identified three main themes: enabling relational bonds, creating a men-specific context, and supporting developmental transitions.
Positive program acceptability and promising outcome effects highlighted the present rite of passage program as a promising mechanism for supporting healthy masculine identity development among adolescent males.
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