Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

‘Everyone assumes a man to be quite strong’: Men, masculinity and rheumatoid arthritis: A case-study approach

Noddings, Robert; White, Alan; Rodham, Karen; Kirwan, John; Flurey, Caroline A; Hewlett, Sarah


Robert Noddings

Alan White

Karen Rodham

John Kirwan


© 2017 The Authors. Sociology of Health & Illness published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Foundation for SHIL. Current literature has overlooked the impact of chronic illness on masculine identity. We therefore aimed to investigate the impact of rheumatoid arthritis (a long term condition, affecting more women than men) on masculine identity. Six focus groups with 22 men with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) (data reported elsewhere) followed by five one-to-one interviews with men (English, mean age: 59 years) sampled to reflect a heterogeneous experience of life with RA based on knowledge gained from the focus groups. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis and are presented as individual case studies. Whilst the case studies provide five distinct experiences, common themes can be drawn across them, such as the importance of paid work. The men needed to renegotiate their masculine identity to deal with their RA. Two dealt with this by pushing through pain to retain masculine activities, two replaced masculine roles they could no longer do with other roles, and one rejected masculinity completely. Men with long term conditions may need to re-write their masculinity scripts to enable them to accept and adapt to their condition. However, some men struggle with this, which should be taken into consideration when designing self-management services for men with long term conditions.


Kirwan, J., Rodham, K., White, A., Noddings, R., Flurey, C. A., & Hewlett, S. (2018). ‘Everyone assumes a man to be quite strong’: Men, masculinity and rheumatoid arthritis: A case-study approach. Sociology of Health and Illness, 40(1), 115-129.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 30, 2017
Online Publication Date Oct 15, 2017
Publication Date Jan 1, 2018
Deposit Date Feb 28, 2018
Journal Sociology of Health and Illness
Print ISSN 0141-9889
Electronic ISSN 1467-9566
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 40
Issue 1
Pages 115-129
Keywords men, masculinity, rheumatoid arthritis, RA, qualitative, case studies
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations