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Male family carers' experiences of formal support – a meta‐ethnography

Background: Men represent a growing proportion of unpaid family carers across Europe. Comparative studies have proposed male carers experience their caring role differently to females; men are less likely to avail of formal support services than women. Social ideas around masculinity have been linked to the help‐seeking behaviours of male carers, as well as men's attitudes around accessing formal support. More understanding about this role from the perspective of male carers is required. Methods: The study followed a meta‐ethnography process starting with a systematic literature search of five electronic databases. The methodological quality of the selected studies was evaluated using the Mc Master checklist. Using NVivo 12 software, primary data were analysed and themes throughout the papers were identified. Results were synthesised as a meta‐ethnography that retained direct quotes from the studies. Results: Two themes and five sub‐themes were developed from the data. The first theme was ‘Men's experiences of formal support’ which contained sub‐themes ‘Reluctance to step back’, ‘A space to share emotions’ and ‘Education diminishes burden’. The second theme was ‘Coping without Formal Support’ with sub‐themes ‘Satisfied without help’ and ‘Duty prevents help seeking’. Conclusions: Fear of perceived failure and a loss of control in the caring relationship were key factors in men's low trust and dissatisfaction with available services. To engage more male carers, formal service providers should acknowledge men's wish to be seen as competent in the care role as well as their desire to stay involved in decision‐making around care for their family member. Support services that were collaborative, education‐based and gender‐sensitive were favoured by male carers.

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Type of Reference
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Journal article
John Wiley
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Journal Titles
Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
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