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Men’s health is a conundrum. In New Zealand, men have a lower life expectancy and health status than women, yet New Zealand is described as taking an ‘ad-hoc’ approach to men’s health with no strategy or policies to address these health inequalities.1 Men’s health is any issue that impacts men’s quality of life, and requires a gender-orientated response to improve men’s health and wellbeing at an individual or population level.2 The need for gendered healthcare is indisputable: a 2002 Ministry of Health paper reported that in addition to biological differences, much of gender health inequality is a product of social and cultural expectations.3 What is the current status of men’s health in New Zealand and where do opportunities exist for healthcare professionals to address health inequalities?

1. Men’s health is about higher and earlier mortality

Between the ages of 50 and 75 years, the overall number of deaths for men is 30% higher than for women;4 men die at an earlier age than women.4 While women’s health is a useful comparison for men’s health issues, men have different health needs: priorities in improving men’s health (as a discipline) is to identify these needs and the extent to which men’s health can be improved.

2. Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death for New Zealand men

The main causes of death for New Zealand men are presented in Figure 1. From the age of 40 years onwards, heart disease and cancer are increasingly common causes of mortality.4 The prevalence of heart disease and some cancers can be attributed to men’s adverse lifestyles, including excessive alcohol intake, lack of exercise and inappropriate diet.5 Cancer does not discriminate between sexes in overall death rates between age groups. However, for heart disease, a larger number of deaths in women does not occur until the age of 85 years (Figure 2).

Figure 1: Main causes of death for New Zealand men (2013).4

c

Figure 2: Comparison of mortality rates for heart disease and cancer for New Zealand men and women (2013).4

c

3. Men’s health is not just about prostate or testicular cancer

Prostate and testicular cancer represent perhaps the unique men’s health concerns in this area. Over half of Health Research Council funding allocated to men’s health issues since 2010 has been awarded to projects concentrating on prostate or testicular cancer. However, prostate and testicular cancer combined account for just 4.4% of all annual male deaths.4 Lung cancer accounts for 5.8% of all male deaths each year, followed by colorectal cancer at 4.3%.4

Among all cancers, hospitalisation for prostate and testicular cancer is low. The highest hospitalisation rate is reported in skin cancer patients (1.9% of hospitalisations).7 Colorectal cancer and prostate cancer account for 0.4% of all hospitalisations respectively.7 Early detection and reliable treatment of skin cancer means that it accounts for only 2% of deaths.

4. Suicide is the leading cause of death for young male teenagers and adults

Between the ages of 15–30 years, suicide is the leading cause of death for men. Men are more likely to choose a violent method of suicide, such as hanging or suffocation.3 Women are twice as likely to be hospitalised due to attempted suicide, but female mortality rates from suicide are 40% of those of men:8 12% of male suicide attempts result in death, compared to just 2% for women.3 This disparity may arise from higher suicidal intent among men compared with women, who are less intent on dying and may be more amenable to receiving help and support.9

5. Men’s health in Māori and Pacific Peoples

Life expectancy for Māori and Pacific men is 73 years and 74.5 years, respectively, compared with 80.3 years for non-Māori males.10 Cancer is the leading cause of death, with the highest mortality rate at the age of 65 for Māori men and 70 years for Pacific.4 Heart disease is the second leading cause of death, but deaths occur 5–15 years earlier among Māori and Pacific men compared with non-Māori.4 Diabetes is the third leading cause of death, accounting for 6% of Māori deaths, 8% of Pacific men (with significant increases in deaths occurring from 40 years), compared with just 2.6% of non-Māori deaths.4 Differences in health outcomes for Māori and Pacific men compared to their counterparts result from a complex combination of factors that include greater exposure to the determinants of ill-health (eg, lower socioeconomic status) and poorer access to and quality of healthcare. Similar to men’s health in general, these mortality rates, and in particular the age of onset of disease, are also affected by health risk factors such as diet and other lifestyle factors.

6. Trauma

The rate of accidents resulting in injury or death is consistent across the age range, and accidents are a significant cause of hospitalisations. In 2013–14, men submitted over 870,000 claims to the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC);11 accidents result in 59,036 hospitalisations.7 Men aged between 20–30 years are more likely to be the victims of assault or homicide, whereas from the age of 65 years onwards, tripping or falls are the most common accidents.7

7. Research activity in men’s health

To map the contemporary literature and explore whether the available research meets the needs of men’s health, two researchers (LM and LL) searched the OVID and Scopus databases from 2010 to June 2017. Articles were identified through titles, abstracts and keywords using search terms including ‘accident’, ‘cancer’, ‘heart disease’, ‘stroke’, ‘COPD’, ‘suicide’ and ‘dementia’. Results were restricted to those reporting exclusively on ‘man’, ‘men’ or ‘male’. Searches were further restricted to New Zealand-based publications, researchers and/or participants.

Results of the literature search showed a striking need for research on men’s health issues in which the risks are modifiable. For heart disease, stroke, and to a lesser degree of modifiable lifestyle change, cancer, studies of women’s health outnumbers men’s health by two to one. Topics in which risks are not directly modifiable, accidents and dementia, were well represented in the literature search.

A further search was made of Health Research Council funding since 2010.6 LM and LL reviewed titles and abstracts of all successful applications to identify sex-specific funding. The search revealed that for every $1 spent exclusively on women’s health research, men’s health research received $0.06.

Conclusion and implications

Men’s health is partly a product of biology, social expectations and systemic discrimination variable of access and quality of care, as well as a consequence of masculinity (a set of male attributes, behaviours and roles): the invulnerable approach to diet and activity,5 and the ‘man up’ approach to health.1 To improve men’s health, it is beneficial to raise men’s health awareness by enabling men to define what health means to them, improve access to healthcare resources, particularly avoiding environments, terminology or judgments that might be negative about masculinity.12 Nevertheless, where masculinity entails adverse activities including substance use, risk behaviours and violence, being non-judgemental may be damaging.

ACC statistics reveal that each year around 1.2 million New Zealand men contact with at least one healthcare professional for issues unrelated to chronic disease.11 This is a key opportunity for healthcare professionals to screen for lifestyle behaviours and promote the healthier lifestyle that would help New Zealand men to live longer, healthier lives. In order to address health inequities, education is necessary but insufficient to improve such practices. Policies that change environments in ways that reduce damaging social determinants of health may be far more effective.

Australia, Ireland and the UK have established men’s health forums and released national men’s health policies. The approaches to policy development and methodologies used provide a solid foundation for men’s health policy development in other countries including New Zealand. We plan to launch a New Zealand National Centre for Men’s Health in late 2017; further information will be available at www.otago.ac.nz/mens-health.

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

G David Baxter, Professor, Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, Dunedin; Director- National Science Challenge Aging Well; DirectorNew Zealand Centre for Men's Health; Leon Mabire, Physiotherapist, Department of Physiotherapy, Southern District Health Board, Dunedin; Lizhou Liu, Assistant Research Fellow, Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, Dunedin; Martin J Connolly, Freemasons Professor of Geriatric Medicine, University of Auckland and Geriatrician, Waitemata District Health Board, Auckland; Reremoana Theodore, Co-Director of the National Centre for Lifecourse Research (NCLR), National Centre for Lifecourse Research, Department of Psychology, University of Otago, Dunedin; Jill Brunson, Academic Executive Officer, Academic Divisional Office, University of Otago, Dunedin; Helen Nicholson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement), Professor, Department of Anatomy, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Otago, Dunedin.

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Dr Fiona Doolan-Noble (Senior Research Fellow, Department of General Practice and Rural Health, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago) for suggestions in manuscript revision.

Correspondence

Professor G David Baxter, Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054.

Correspondence Email

david.baxter@otago.ac.nz

Competing Interests

Nil.

  1. Gage J. Man up! Examining men’s health. Nurs N Z. 2015; 21(6):2.
  2. Department of Health and Children. National men’s health policy 2008–2013: Working with men in Ireland to achieve optimum health and wellbeing. Dublin: The Stationery Office; 2008.
  3. Ministry of Health. Reducing Inequalities in Health. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Health; 2002.
  4. Ministry of Health. Mortality 2013 online tables. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Health; 2016.
  5. McKinlay E, Kljakovic M, McBain L. New Zealand men’s health care: are we meeting the needs of men in general practice? J Prim Health Care. 2009;1(4):302-10.
  6. Funding Recipients - Health Research Council, New Zealand [Available from: http://www.hrc.govt.nz/funding-opportunities/recipients?tid_1=All&tid=All&field_year_value%5Bvalue%5D%5Byear%5D=2010 Accessed on 20th July, 2017.
  7. Ministry of Health. Publicly funded hospital discharges – 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Health; 2016.
  8. Ministry of Health. Suicide Facts: Deaths and intentional self-harm hospitalisations: 2013. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Health; 2016.
  9. Denning DG, Conwell Y, King D, Cox C. Method choice, intent, and gender in completed suicide. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2000; 30(3):282–8.
  10. Stats NZ. New Zealand Period Life Tables: 2012–14 [Available from: http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/health/life_expectancy/NZLifeTables_HOTP12-14.aspx Accessed on 20th July, 2017.
  11. ACC Injury Statistics Tool 2017 [Available from: http://www.acc.co.nz/about-acc/statistics/injury-statistics-tool/index.htm# Accessed on 20th July, 2017.
  12. Johnson L, Huggard P, Goodyear-Smith F. Men’s health and the health of the nation. N Z Med J. 2008; 121(1287):69–76.


For the PDF of this article,
contact nzmj@nzma.org.nz

View Article PDF

Men’s health is a conundrum. In New Zealand, men have a lower life expectancy and health status than women, yet New Zealand is described as taking an ‘ad-hoc’ approach to men’s health with no strategy or policies to address these health inequalities.1 Men’s health is any issue that impacts men’s quality of life, and requires a gender-orientated response to improve men’s health and wellbeing at an individual or population level.2 The need for gendered healthcare is indisputable: a 2002 Ministry of Health paper reported that in addition to biological differences, much of gender health inequality is a product of social and cultural expectations.3 What is the current status of men’s health in New Zealand and where do opportunities exist for healthcare professionals to address health inequalities?

1. Men’s health is about higher and earlier mortality

Between the ages of 50 and 75 years, the overall number of deaths for men is 30% higher than for women;4 men die at an earlier age than women.4 While women’s health is a useful comparison for men’s health issues, men have different health needs: priorities in improving men’s health (as a discipline) is to identify these needs and the extent to which men’s health can be improved.

2. Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death for New Zealand men

The main causes of death for New Zealand men are presented in Figure 1. From the age of 40 years onwards, heart disease and cancer are increasingly common causes of mortality.4 The prevalence of heart disease and some cancers can be attributed to men’s adverse lifestyles, including excessive alcohol intake, lack of exercise and inappropriate diet.5 Cancer does not discriminate between sexes in overall death rates between age groups. However, for heart disease, a larger number of deaths in women does not occur until the age of 85 years (Figure 2).

Figure 1: Main causes of death for New Zealand men (2013).4

c

Figure 2: Comparison of mortality rates for heart disease and cancer for New Zealand men and women (2013).4

c

3. Men’s health is not just about prostate or testicular cancer

Prostate and testicular cancer represent perhaps the unique men’s health concerns in this area. Over half of Health Research Council funding allocated to men’s health issues since 2010 has been awarded to projects concentrating on prostate or testicular cancer. However, prostate and testicular cancer combined account for just 4.4% of all annual male deaths.4 Lung cancer accounts for 5.8% of all male deaths each year, followed by colorectal cancer at 4.3%.4

Among all cancers, hospitalisation for prostate and testicular cancer is low. The highest hospitalisation rate is reported in skin cancer patients (1.9% of hospitalisations).7 Colorectal cancer and prostate cancer account for 0.4% of all hospitalisations respectively.7 Early detection and reliable treatment of skin cancer means that it accounts for only 2% of deaths.

4. Suicide is the leading cause of death for young male teenagers and adults

Between the ages of 15–30 years, suicide is the leading cause of death for men. Men are more likely to choose a violent method of suicide, such as hanging or suffocation.3 Women are twice as likely to be hospitalised due to attempted suicide, but female mortality rates from suicide are 40% of those of men:8 12% of male suicide attempts result in death, compared to just 2% for women.3 This disparity may arise from higher suicidal intent among men compared with women, who are less intent on dying and may be more amenable to receiving help and support.9

5. Men’s health in Māori and Pacific Peoples

Life expectancy for Māori and Pacific men is 73 years and 74.5 years, respectively, compared with 80.3 years for non-Māori males.10 Cancer is the leading cause of death, with the highest mortality rate at the age of 65 for Māori men and 70 years for Pacific.4 Heart disease is the second leading cause of death, but deaths occur 5–15 years earlier among Māori and Pacific men compared with non-Māori.4 Diabetes is the third leading cause of death, accounting for 6% of Māori deaths, 8% of Pacific men (with significant increases in deaths occurring from 40 years), compared with just 2.6% of non-Māori deaths.4 Differences in health outcomes for Māori and Pacific men compared to their counterparts result from a complex combination of factors that include greater exposure to the determinants of ill-health (eg, lower socioeconomic status) and poorer access to and quality of healthcare. Similar to men’s health in general, these mortality rates, and in particular the age of onset of disease, are also affected by health risk factors such as diet and other lifestyle factors.

6. Trauma

The rate of accidents resulting in injury or death is consistent across the age range, and accidents are a significant cause of hospitalisations. In 2013–14, men submitted over 870,000 claims to the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC);11 accidents result in 59,036 hospitalisations.7 Men aged between 20–30 years are more likely to be the victims of assault or homicide, whereas from the age of 65 years onwards, tripping or falls are the most common accidents.7

7. Research activity in men’s health

To map the contemporary literature and explore whether the available research meets the needs of men’s health, two researchers (LM and LL) searched the OVID and Scopus databases from 2010 to June 2017. Articles were identified through titles, abstracts and keywords using search terms including ‘accident’, ‘cancer’, ‘heart disease’, ‘stroke’, ‘COPD’, ‘suicide’ and ‘dementia’. Results were restricted to those reporting exclusively on ‘man’, ‘men’ or ‘male’. Searches were further restricted to New Zealand-based publications, researchers and/or participants.

Results of the literature search showed a striking need for research on men’s health issues in which the risks are modifiable. For heart disease, stroke, and to a lesser degree of modifiable lifestyle change, cancer, studies of women’s health outnumbers men’s health by two to one. Topics in which risks are not directly modifiable, accidents and dementia, were well represented in the literature search.

A further search was made of Health Research Council funding since 2010.6 LM and LL reviewed titles and abstracts of all successful applications to identify sex-specific funding. The search revealed that for every $1 spent exclusively on women’s health research, men’s health research received $0.06.

Conclusion and implications

Men’s health is partly a product of biology, social expectations and systemic discrimination variable of access and quality of care, as well as a consequence of masculinity (a set of male attributes, behaviours and roles): the invulnerable approach to diet and activity,5 and the ‘man up’ approach to health.1 To improve men’s health, it is beneficial to raise men’s health awareness by enabling men to define what health means to them, improve access to healthcare resources, particularly avoiding environments, terminology or judgments that might be negative about masculinity.12 Nevertheless, where masculinity entails adverse activities including substance use, risk behaviours and violence, being non-judgemental may be damaging.

ACC statistics reveal that each year around 1.2 million New Zealand men contact with at least one healthcare professional for issues unrelated to chronic disease.11 This is a key opportunity for healthcare professionals to screen for lifestyle behaviours and promote the healthier lifestyle that would help New Zealand men to live longer, healthier lives. In order to address health inequities, education is necessary but insufficient to improve such practices. Policies that change environments in ways that reduce damaging social determinants of health may be far more effective.

Australia, Ireland and the UK have established men’s health forums and released national men’s health policies. The approaches to policy development and methodologies used provide a solid foundation for men’s health policy development in other countries including New Zealand. We plan to launch a New Zealand National Centre for Men’s Health in late 2017; further information will be available at www.otago.ac.nz/mens-health.

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

G David Baxter, Professor, Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, Dunedin; Director- National Science Challenge Aging Well; DirectorNew Zealand Centre for Men's Health; Leon Mabire, Physiotherapist, Department of Physiotherapy, Southern District Health Board, Dunedin; Lizhou Liu, Assistant Research Fellow, Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, Dunedin; Martin J Connolly, Freemasons Professor of Geriatric Medicine, University of Auckland and Geriatrician, Waitemata District Health Board, Auckland; Reremoana Theodore, Co-Director of the National Centre for Lifecourse Research (NCLR), National Centre for Lifecourse Research, Department of Psychology, University of Otago, Dunedin; Jill Brunson, Academic Executive Officer, Academic Divisional Office, University of Otago, Dunedin; Helen Nicholson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement), Professor, Department of Anatomy, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Otago, Dunedin.

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Dr Fiona Doolan-Noble (Senior Research Fellow, Department of General Practice and Rural Health, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago) for suggestions in manuscript revision.

Correspondence

Professor G David Baxter, Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054.

Correspondence Email

david.baxter@otago.ac.nz

Competing Interests

Nil.

  1. Gage J. Man up! Examining men’s health. Nurs N Z. 2015; 21(6):2.
  2. Department of Health and Children. National men’s health policy 2008–2013: Working with men in Ireland to achieve optimum health and wellbeing. Dublin: The Stationery Office; 2008.
  3. Ministry of Health. Reducing Inequalities in Health. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Health; 2002.
  4. Ministry of Health. Mortality 2013 online tables. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Health; 2016.
  5. McKinlay E, Kljakovic M, McBain L. New Zealand men’s health care: are we meeting the needs of men in general practice? J Prim Health Care. 2009;1(4):302-10.
  6. Funding Recipients - Health Research Council, New Zealand [Available from: http://www.hrc.govt.nz/funding-opportunities/recipients?tid_1=All&tid=All&field_year_value%5Bvalue%5D%5Byear%5D=2010 Accessed on 20th July, 2017.
  7. Ministry of Health. Publicly funded hospital discharges – 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Health; 2016.
  8. Ministry of Health. Suicide Facts: Deaths and intentional self-harm hospitalisations: 2013. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Health; 2016.
  9. Denning DG, Conwell Y, King D, Cox C. Method choice, intent, and gender in completed suicide. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2000; 30(3):282–8.
  10. Stats NZ. New Zealand Period Life Tables: 2012–14 [Available from: http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/health/life_expectancy/NZLifeTables_HOTP12-14.aspx Accessed on 20th July, 2017.
  11. ACC Injury Statistics Tool 2017 [Available from: http://www.acc.co.nz/about-acc/statistics/injury-statistics-tool/index.htm# Accessed on 20th July, 2017.
  12. Johnson L, Huggard P, Goodyear-Smith F. Men’s health and the health of the nation. N Z Med J. 2008; 121(1287):69–76.


For the PDF of this article,
contact nzmj@nzma.org.nz

View Article PDF

Men’s health is a conundrum. In New Zealand, men have a lower life expectancy and health status than women, yet New Zealand is described as taking an ‘ad-hoc’ approach to men’s health with no strategy or policies to address these health inequalities.1 Men’s health is any issue that impacts men’s quality of life, and requires a gender-orientated response to improve men’s health and wellbeing at an individual or population level.2 The need for gendered healthcare is indisputable: a 2002 Ministry of Health paper reported that in addition to biological differences, much of gender health inequality is a product of social and cultural expectations.3 What is the current status of men’s health in New Zealand and where do opportunities exist for healthcare professionals to address health inequalities?

1. Men’s health is about higher and earlier mortality

Between the ages of 50 and 75 years, the overall number of deaths for men is 30% higher than for women;4 men die at an earlier age than women.4 While women’s health is a useful comparison for men’s health issues, men have different health needs: priorities in improving men’s health (as a discipline) is to identify these needs and the extent to which men’s health can be improved.

2. Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death for New Zealand men

The main causes of death for New Zealand men are presented in Figure 1. From the age of 40 years onwards, heart disease and cancer are increasingly common causes of mortality.4 The prevalence of heart disease and some cancers can be attributed to men’s adverse lifestyles, including excessive alcohol intake, lack of exercise and inappropriate diet.5 Cancer does not discriminate between sexes in overall death rates between age groups. However, for heart disease, a larger number of deaths in women does not occur until the age of 85 years (Figure 2).

Figure 1: Main causes of death for New Zealand men (2013).4

c

Figure 2: Comparison of mortality rates for heart disease and cancer for New Zealand men and women (2013).4

c

3. Men’s health is not just about prostate or testicular cancer

Prostate and testicular cancer represent perhaps the unique men’s health concerns in this area. Over half of Health Research Council funding allocated to men’s health issues since 2010 has been awarded to projects concentrating on prostate or testicular cancer. However, prostate and testicular cancer combined account for just 4.4% of all annual male deaths.4 Lung cancer accounts for 5.8% of all male deaths each year, followed by colorectal cancer at 4.3%.4

Among all cancers, hospitalisation for prostate and testicular cancer is low. The highest hospitalisation rate is reported in skin cancer patients (1.9% of hospitalisations).7 Colorectal cancer and prostate cancer account for 0.4% of all hospitalisations respectively.7 Early detection and reliable treatment of skin cancer means that it accounts for only 2% of deaths.

4. Suicide is the leading cause of death for young male teenagers and adults

Between the ages of 15–30 years, suicide is the leading cause of death for men. Men are more likely to choose a violent method of suicide, such as hanging or suffocation.3 Women are twice as likely to be hospitalised due to attempted suicide, but female mortality rates from suicide are 40% of those of men:8 12% of male suicide attempts result in death, compared to just 2% for women.3 This disparity may arise from higher suicidal intent among men compared with women, who are less intent on dying and may be more amenable to receiving help and support.9

5. Men’s health in Māori and Pacific Peoples

Life expectancy for Māori and Pacific men is 73 years and 74.5 years, respectively, compared with 80.3 years for non-Māori males.10 Cancer is the leading cause of death, with the highest mortality rate at the age of 65 for Māori men and 70 years for Pacific.4 Heart disease is the second leading cause of death, but deaths occur 5–15 years earlier among Māori and Pacific men compared with non-Māori.4 Diabetes is the third leading cause of death, accounting for 6% of Māori deaths, 8% of Pacific men (with significant increases in deaths occurring from 40 years), compared with just 2.6% of non-Māori deaths.4 Differences in health outcomes for Māori and Pacific men compared to their counterparts result from a complex combination of factors that include greater exposure to the determinants of ill-health (eg, lower socioeconomic status) and poorer access to and quality of healthcare. Similar to men’s health in general, these mortality rates, and in particular the age of onset of disease, are also affected by health risk factors such as diet and other lifestyle factors.

6. Trauma

The rate of accidents resulting in injury or death is consistent across the age range, and accidents are a significant cause of hospitalisations. In 2013–14, men submitted over 870,000 claims to the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC);11 accidents result in 59,036 hospitalisations.7 Men aged between 20–30 years are more likely to be the victims of assault or homicide, whereas from the age of 65 years onwards, tripping or falls are the most common accidents.7

7. Research activity in men’s health

To map the contemporary literature and explore whether the available research meets the needs of men’s health, two researchers (LM and LL) searched the OVID and Scopus databases from 2010 to June 2017. Articles were identified through titles, abstracts and keywords using search terms including ‘accident’, ‘cancer’, ‘heart disease’, ‘stroke’, ‘COPD’, ‘suicide’ and ‘dementia’. Results were restricted to those reporting exclusively on ‘man’, ‘men’ or ‘male’. Searches were further restricted to New Zealand-based publications, researchers and/or participants.

Results of the literature search showed a striking need for research on men’s health issues in which the risks are modifiable. For heart disease, stroke, and to a lesser degree of modifiable lifestyle change, cancer, studies of women’s health outnumbers men’s health by two to one. Topics in which risks are not directly modifiable, accidents and dementia, were well represented in the literature search.

A further search was made of Health Research Council funding since 2010.6 LM and LL reviewed titles and abstracts of all successful applications to identify sex-specific funding. The search revealed that for every $1 spent exclusively on women’s health research, men’s health research received $0.06.

Conclusion and implications

Men’s health is partly a product of biology, social expectations and systemic discrimination variable of access and quality of care, as well as a consequence of masculinity (a set of male attributes, behaviours and roles): the invulnerable approach to diet and activity,5 and the ‘man up’ approach to health.1 To improve men’s health, it is beneficial to raise men’s health awareness by enabling men to define what health means to them, improve access to healthcare resources, particularly avoiding environments, terminology or judgments that might be negative about masculinity.12 Nevertheless, where masculinity entails adverse activities including substance use, risk behaviours and violence, being non-judgemental may be damaging.

ACC statistics reveal that each year around 1.2 million New Zealand men contact with at least one healthcare professional for issues unrelated to chronic disease.11 This is a key opportunity for healthcare professionals to screen for lifestyle behaviours and promote the healthier lifestyle that would help New Zealand men to live longer, healthier lives. In order to address health inequities, education is necessary but insufficient to improve such practices. Policies that change environments in ways that reduce damaging social determinants of health may be far more effective.

Australia, Ireland and the UK have established men’s health forums and released national men’s health policies. The approaches to policy development and methodologies used provide a solid foundation for men’s health policy development in other countries including New Zealand. We plan to launch a New Zealand National Centre for Men’s Health in late 2017; further information will be available at www.otago.ac.nz/mens-health.

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

G David Baxter, Professor, Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, Dunedin; Director- National Science Challenge Aging Well; DirectorNew Zealand Centre for Men's Health; Leon Mabire, Physiotherapist, Department of Physiotherapy, Southern District Health Board, Dunedin; Lizhou Liu, Assistant Research Fellow, Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, Dunedin; Martin J Connolly, Freemasons Professor of Geriatric Medicine, University of Auckland and Geriatrician, Waitemata District Health Board, Auckland; Reremoana Theodore, Co-Director of the National Centre for Lifecourse Research (NCLR), National Centre for Lifecourse Research, Department of Psychology, University of Otago, Dunedin; Jill Brunson, Academic Executive Officer, Academic Divisional Office, University of Otago, Dunedin; Helen Nicholson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement), Professor, Department of Anatomy, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Otago, Dunedin.

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Dr Fiona Doolan-Noble (Senior Research Fellow, Department of General Practice and Rural Health, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago) for suggestions in manuscript revision.

Correspondence

Professor G David Baxter, Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054.

Correspondence Email

david.baxter@otago.ac.nz

Competing Interests

Nil.

  1. Gage J. Man up! Examining men’s health. Nurs N Z. 2015; 21(6):2.
  2. Department of Health and Children. National men’s health policy 2008–2013: Working with men in Ireland to achieve optimum health and wellbeing. Dublin: The Stationery Office; 2008.
  3. Ministry of Health. Reducing Inequalities in Health. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Health; 2002.
  4. Ministry of Health. Mortality 2013 online tables. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Health; 2016.
  5. McKinlay E, Kljakovic M, McBain L. New Zealand men’s health care: are we meeting the needs of men in general practice? J Prim Health Care. 2009;1(4):302-10.
  6. Funding Recipients - Health Research Council, New Zealand [Available from: http://www.hrc.govt.nz/funding-opportunities/recipients?tid_1=All&tid=All&field_year_value%5Bvalue%5D%5Byear%5D=2010 Accessed on 20th July, 2017.
  7. Ministry of Health. Publicly funded hospital discharges – 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Health; 2016.
  8. Ministry of Health. Suicide Facts: Deaths and intentional self-harm hospitalisations: 2013. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Health; 2016.
  9. Denning DG, Conwell Y, King D, Cox C. Method choice, intent, and gender in completed suicide. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2000; 30(3):282–8.
  10. Stats NZ. New Zealand Period Life Tables: 2012–14 [Available from: http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/health/life_expectancy/NZLifeTables_HOTP12-14.aspx Accessed on 20th July, 2017.
  11. ACC Injury Statistics Tool 2017 [Available from: http://www.acc.co.nz/about-acc/statistics/injury-statistics-tool/index.htm# Accessed on 20th July, 2017.
  12. Johnson L, Huggard P, Goodyear-Smith F. Men’s health and the health of the nation. N Z Med J. 2008; 121(1287):69–76.


Contact diana@nzma.org.nz
for the PDF of this article

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