Abstract: Promoting Intimate Friendships for Boys of Color: Preliminary Findings from the Wiseguyz Program (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

228 Promoting Intimate Friendships for Boys of Color: Preliminary Findings from the Wiseguyz Program

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Pacific D/L (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Deinera Exner-Cortens, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Caroline Claussen, MA, Doctoral Candidate, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Debb Hurlock, PhD, Research & Strategy Consultant, Creative Theory Inc., Calgary, AB, Canada
Roseline Carter, RSW, Director of Programs, Centre for Sexuality, Calgary, AB, Canada
Pam Krause, BA, President and CEO, Centre for Sexuality, Calgary, AB, Canada
Intimate friendships in adolescence are key to positive well-being, and past research has demonstrated that both boys and girls are interested in and desiring of these relationships. However, for boys, opportunities to engage in intimate friendships may become constrained during the adolescent period as they increasingly strive to adhere to societal expectations around masculinity (e.g., emotional restraint, avoidance of femininity). For boys of color, this pressure to conform to traditional male norms may be especially intense as they navigate expectations to adhere to the dominant culture. Because of the key role of friendships in promoting well-being, a loss of intimate friendships has important consequences for understanding health disparities experienced by men and boys; thus, health promotion approaches that work with boys to deconstruct such health-constraining gender norms are needed. While promotion of intimate friendship quality for all boys is an important program target, understanding program effectiveness for boys of color is of specific importance to promoting health equity due to the paucity of developed programs that consider the needs of diverse youth groups.

We present findings from a within-groups evaluation of a gender-transformative healthy relationships program for adolescent boys, the WiseGuyz program. WiseGuyz is a community-facilitated program for Grade 9 boys that aims to improve mental and sexual health and reduce male-perpetrated violence by deconstructing traditional masculine gender role norms. We collected quantitative outcome data from 305 boys (54.4% boys of color) who were participating in the program in a Western Canadian province. Friendship quality was assessed using Furman and Buhrmester’s Network of Relationships Inventory – Relationship Quality Version. Scores are averaged to create a total friendship closeness score (range, 1-5), as well as sub-scale scores for each underlying domain (companionship, intimate disclosure, satisfaction, emotional support and approval). Data were analyzed using a three-level hierarchical linear model, controlling for dating status and age.

Data demonstrated that the program had a specific protective effect for boys of color in our sample, such that these boys reported significantly greater increases in friendship closeness across the program year, as compared to White boys (b=0.27, p=.007). This overall effect was driven by positive changes in four of the five sub-domains. We will discuss implications of findings for promoting health equity through prevention science.

Debb Hurlock
Centre for Sexuality: Honorarium/Consulting Fees

Roseline Carter
Centre for Sexuality: Manager of Programs

Pam Krause
Centre for Sexuality: President & CEO