Associations between gender, sex types and caring behaviours among nurses in mental health

Ronen Shmilovitz, Michal Itzhaki, Silvia Koton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What is known on the subject?: Developing sex type is the process in which one develops behavioural attributes and personality characteristics socially defined as matching one's biological sex. "Psychological androgyny" means that a person should not be judged in terms of his or her traditional sex role. “Androgynous” sex type means that a person could have both female and male characteristics, depending on the circumstances. “Androgynous” sex-type individuals show higher capacity to deal with a variety of roles and a healthier and more adaptive behaviour than those with the same gender sex typing Previous studies focused on caring behaviours while examining the difference between female and male nurses but there are no studies on differences between female and male nurses in the mental health field in relation with sex types. What this paper adds to existing knowledge?: From a theoretical point of view, our study adds important information on specific associations between sex types and caring in mental health nurses. Nurses with different sex type perform caring behaviours at different levels. “Androgynous” sex-type nurses perform caring behaviours at a higher level than others do. What are the implications for practice?: Our findings can contribute to raising awareness among head nurses and policy makers in the mental health field, of the differences between nurses, and among female and male nurses in mental health centres, regarding their caring behaviours. Understanding this association can assist in the recruitment and allocation of candidates in mental health nursing settings and later on, in developing appropriate instruction programs for these employees. Abstract: Introduction Understanding differences in caring behaviours by sex is crucial in light of the need to encourage men to join the nursing profession. Aims To study the association between sex types and caring behaviours in female and male nurses in the mental health field. Methods Cross-sectional study including a convenience sample of 114 nurses in three mental health centres in Israel. Data were self-reported in a structured form including validated scales for the assessment of sex types and caring behaviours. ANOVA and linear regression tests were used were performed with SPSS version 21. All the analyses were 2-tailed, and p < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Results Androgynous female and male nurses displayed higher levels of caring than other sex types. Higher levels of caring were observed in female compared with male nurses overall (p = 0.011) and in behaviours showing respect (p = 0.020) and attentiveness to patients' needs and safety (p = 0.002). Conclusion Our results suggest that different sex-typed female and male nurses in the mental health field display different levels of caring behaviours. Implications for Practice Our findings can help head nurses and policy makers in recruitment and allocation of nurses in mental health settings, as well as in developing educational programs for employees and nursing students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)422-429
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • caring
  • gender
  • mental health
  • nursing
  • sex type


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