There is a persistent and troubling myth that men don’t care about their health. But they do. Most men over 40 will have visited a doctor in the past 12 months. But compared to women, men visit the doctor less often, have shorter consultations, and tend to see their GP later.
To help break down these barriers and improve health outcomes, Healthy Male provides resources in the following ways:
- Accredited health professional training activities
- Clinical summary guides
- Patient information guides
- Health presentation kit
Recognising the importance for primary health professionals to maximise opportunities effectively when engaging with men, our clinical summary guide 'Engaging Men in Primary Care Settings' provides evidence-based guidance on:
- Factors that influence men’s interaction with GPs
- Strategies for GPs to engage men in discussions about their health
- How to approach sensitive issues
- Myths about men’s engagement in health services (with implications for health service providers).
Tips for men’s health promotion in primary health settings:
Tap into the evidence
Don’t reinvent the wheel. A number of organisations across Australia can support your practice (and patients) with free, quality evidence-based clinical resources on men’s health.
- Do you operate out-of-hours clinics or flexible appointment times to accommodate men in full-time employment?
- Is it feasible to have more male health professionals on staff?
- Is your reception and waiting area gender-inclusive?
- Is quality men’s health information readily available to your patients?
Have male health resources on hand
- Review the men’s health clinical resources that you have available. Does your practice have (and use) an orchidometer?
- Are you using clinical treatment guidelines, templates and patient assessment tools relevant for your male patients?
- Use resources such as the Medicare Health Assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (MBS ITEM 715) modified to include sexual health, the Male Fertility Assessment form, and Healthy Male’s Clinical Summary Guides.
Prioritise professional education on men’s health
- When did you last have in-house training on men’s health?
- Does the practice need an update on male genital examination?
- What do your primary health care nurses need to know about men’s health?
- How can you earn professional development points in men’s health?
A critical review of past treatments and outcomes can be revealing, and may help to establish recall and reminder systems
- With how many male patients with diabetes have you had conversations about erectile dysfunction (and vice versa)?
- How many parents of boys born with undescended testes have been provided with information about future risk of testicular cancer?
- How many male patients have had a genital examination when assessing fertility or androgen status?
- How many older male patients with borderline low testosterone levels (6 to 8 nmol/L) will now not be eligible for testosterone therapy on the PBS?
Why is this important? Men may be reluctant to ‘make a fuss’ about their health but generally respond well to timely and relevant advice and reminders.
Make it local
- A rich network of local support services and organisations may be available to your male patients, but it is of little benefit if men don’t know about it
- Collate a list of the men’s health services and support groups in your area so that you are ready with ‘friendly advice’ about local support beyond your practice
- This could include counselling services for men, new dad’s programs, continence programs for men, nutrition and dietary advice specifically for men living on their own
- The websites of the Australian Men’s Sheds Association and Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia list the contact details of local sheds and prostate cancer support groups. Local councils may also be able to advise about men’s health services in the area
- And if local services are not available, do you have the details for national helplines, such as MensLine Australia and the National Continence Helpline?
- At a professional level, contact your Primary Health Network (PHN) to see if you can work together on men’s health, and advocate for men’s health to be on your local PHN agenda
- Check out our Men’s Health Education Kit and Tips for Running a Men’s Health Event.