Health help-seeking behaviour by men in Brunei Darussalam


This qualitative research paper explores how masculinities and expectations about male roles across the life course influence men’s perceptions, of and attitudes towards health and health help-seeking behaviour.

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This paper reports on qualitative research with 37 adult men (18-76 years) living in Brunei Darussalamand explores how masculinities and expectations about male roles across the life course influence men’s perceptions, of and attitudes towards health and health help seeking behaviour. Bruneian men gave accounts that consistently spoke of a series of masculine roles and associated attributes and behaviours, which mapped across the life course. Men described health and the steps that they had taken to protect their health in terms of responsibilities associated with being a breadwinner, provider of support for parents, role model and leader of the family. Whilst adherence to Bruneian norms about masculinity could obstruct men’s engagement with health help-seeking, the authors also found that men mobilised their understanding of Bruneian masculinity such that it provided aculturally legitimate way of engaging in health help-seeking


Gender Responsiveness Assessment Scale (GRAS) and the elements of good practice for gender mainstreaming (GM) used

Gender specific in its focus. The study shows how the men interviewed described gender norms and roles in largely a positive way. For example, ‘ikhtiar’ is a way that men can negotiate ill-health and show adherence and conformity to the demands of masculine identity. The men interviewed equate being able to initiate self-care and not turning to others for help as a positive masculine attribute. Also staying healthy tied very much to a cultural normative for being a son, father and grandfather and shouldering responsibilities. The study contributes to filling a gap in knowledge about men’s health in another country within the Asia-Pacific Region. It begins to fill a gap about the needs of men beyond studies from Western/European countries. Further publications by the author (see links) build on the work e.g. in relation to men with diabetes.


A limitation of the study noted by the author is that it does not necessarily represent the heterogeneity of men’s lives within Brunei Darussalam. Fo rexample, the study does not include men who identify as Chinese or non-binary or not exclusively heterosexual. It also does not appear that men spoke about negative or harmful effects of gender norms which may be a reflection of the small size of the study and the homogeneity of participants.

Relevant to countries who are interested in

Taking action on gender mainstreaming with a focus on men and masculinities, particularly countries with a similar socioeconomic and cultural context. As with the study from Australia it moves beyond description of differences in men’s health compared to women, tol ooking at how masculinity and cultural norms affect men’s health help-seeking behavior.


Journal article not freely available. However other publications related to this topic and specific to Brunei Darussalam by the first author are available. For example on masculinity, health seeking behaviour and diabetes at:

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