Reviewed research

Authors Tsey K, Chigeza P, Holden CA, Bulman J, Gruis H, Wenitong W.

Review Date January 2013

Citation Australian Journal of Primary Health 2012: dx.doi.org/10.1071/PY12033 (early online publication)



As in the general community, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men experience higher levels of illness and die younger than women. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males have identified a lack of male-specific health services as a barrier to accessing primary care. However, gender-based educational programs to support health workers to increase the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males in health care are rare and lack appropriate content. Under the guidance of a Reference Group comprising community leaders in Aboriginal and Torres Strait male health, a culturally appropriate Male Health Module for health worker training was developed and piloted.



To evaluate the pilot phase of use of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health Module in training workshops.



Three pilot workshops were held in Victoria and Queensland with differing formats for each one: one for ‘trainers’, one for male health workers and one for male and female health workers. The evaluation involved in-depth interviews with module developers, pilot workshops for trainers and health workers, questionnaires and focus group discussions with workshop participants, and participant observations.



Participants included 9 ‘trainers’ and 16 ‘learners’ (n=25). The analysis revealed three main themes. 1. The module was highly relevant to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health and seen to be culturally appropriate. Findings suggest it would enhance capacity to facilitate access to health services for men and, importantly, it has potential to promote health worker empowerment and wellbeing. 2. Findings revealed that improving access to services for men required male and female health workers working in partnership but being mindful of the fact that some issues will not be discussed in mixed settings. Learning about women as well as men was seen to be important. 3. The findings revealed a deep fear that the module might end up ‘collecting dust on shelves’ as has happened to many other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health programs. Strategies to improve the module quality and accessibility include incorporating the module into school curriculum so young males may become interested in training to be health workers and increased support for existing health workers to attend training programs.



The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health module was found to be a potentially useful resource for health worker training to improve access of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males to primary health services. Partnerships between curriculum developers, training providers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male support networks will help to make the course accessible to men.


Points to Note
  1. This pilot evaluation showed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health education module has the potential to improve skills and capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers to improve access of men to primary health services.
  2. The study included only 3 pilot workshops and there is a need to extend the evaluation to other sites and types of participants, as well as including medium- and long-term educational outcomes.
  3. This and other training modules for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers require support and resources to allow appropriate evaluation and implementation to ultimately improve Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander male health.

This study was supported by Andrology Australia


Website: http://www.publish.csiro.au/?act=view_file&file_id=PY12033.pdf

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