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University Of Aberdeen: A Systematic Review Of Health Promoting Interventions Targeting Men

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen conducted a review of interventions that focused on men to assess whether they were effective in motivating a change in health behaviours.

Doctor and researcher evaluating health information

 

 
There are significant differences in the way men and women seek help about health concerns...
 

This research reviewed 27 publications to examine how effective different strategies were in improving the rates of behaviour change in different issues of men's health. It sought to ask whether targeting interventions and promotions at men was more effective than applying them in a non-gendered way. One of the common issues in researching and evaluating programs is that they are often not focused on men which itself is a limitation of the health arena.

Researchers in this study identified 338 publications but reduced the final quantity to just 27 based on the criteria of programs that had been formally evaluated as opposed to describing examples of programs underway.

What Works?

The research examined different men's health issues as outlined below. Those interested in the specific nature of individual interventions are encouraged to review the cited references in the original article (link below).

Smoking

Diet And Physical Activity

Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Prostate Cancer

Most studies concerned the provision of education about screening and treatment options. A range of interventions, including verbal information, written information and videos, were shown to be effective in raising levels of knowledge and increasing the involvement of men in decision making about screening. In some studies, particularly in the US, this led to reductions in demand for screening.

Testicular Cancer

Preventative Health Screening

One US study evaluated the effectiveness of patient and/or physician interventions (including targeting partners) to increase men's utilization of preventive healthcare services (annual health assessment, colorectal cancer screening, prostate cancer screening and cholesterol screening). Men in the intervention groups were more likely to receive preventive healthcare office visits, cholesterol screenings and prostate cancer screenings. None of the interventions had a significant impact on the number of men who received colorectal cancer screenings. 

Skin Cancer

Results from an Australian study assessed the impact of two methods of encouraging men to attend skin screening clinics, a personalised letter or the letter plus an additional brochure. Overall, there was no difference in rates of attendance between the groups. The addition of health information through the use of a glossy brochure increased rates of attendance among younger men (30 to 49 years)

Alcohol

One Finnish study assessing alcohol consumption was identified. This controlled before-and-after study evaluated the impact of a self-help pamphlet to support self-control of drinking. Overall there were no significant changes in drinking behaviour or consumption. Among "risky male drinkers" there was a significant reduction in Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores at the second follow-up, but no change in the level of drinking.

Conclusion

The researchers indicate that "most of the existing evidence relates to male sex-specific health problems as opposed to general health concerns relevant to both men and women. There is little published evidence on how to improve men's uptake of services. We cannot conclude from this review that targeting men works better than providing services for all people. Large-scale studies are required to help produce evidence that is sufficiently robust to add to the small evidence base that currently exists in this field."

Resources Available

 

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