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State of Victoria: Engaging Men In Healthcare - Practice And Policy Guide

This guide has been created to assist health services to improve their engagement with men, support policy makers and health service providers to respond more effectively to men's health needs. It can be used by small to large organisations and is intended for people involved in the management and delivery of health services and programs, health policymakers and organisations that are involved in health related work, such as local councils.



This guide provides information and guidance for practice and policy. It outlines a five-step analysis and planning process including a men's health gender tool and other templates. It focuses specifically on men because there are important differences in societal and individual factors that affect men and women's health differently. It can be used in various ways including:

  • to review or redesign an existing health service or intervention.
  • as part of the design of new services, policies and programs.
  • to assist understanding and planning relating to a specific health issue or condition.

Why Men's Health And Gender?

Evidence shows that having a 'gender neutral' approach can contribute to greater health disparities between men and women because they are based on the assumption that interventions will be equally successful for men and women. A gendered approach takes into consideration differing health risks, needs, attitudes and behaviours of men and women which leads to better health service delivery, better clinical and cost effective outcomes for men and women respectively.

Men have lower life expectancy, higher rates of premature deaths and common causes of death such as: cancer, coronary heart disease, suicide and transport accidents. They are more likely to lead unhealthy lives and less likely to engage with health services. There are also significant differences in health outcomes between groups of men.

Men's Usage of Health Services, Barriers to Help seeking & 'Male Friendly' Services

For a variety of reasons men's usage of health services are different from women's, and they may be less inclined to attend health services until their health is negatively affected and is at a later stage. Common barriers to help seeking may be:

  • anxiety about losing control or being vulnerable
  • not wanting to show weakness
  • concern about having a serious condition diagnosed
  • lack of out-of-hours appointments
  • dislike of long waiting times
  • feeling uncomfortable in waiting rooms
  • perceiving primary care to be focused on women and children

Services need to be accommodating men's needs, and health promotion literature needs to be 'male friendly' and specifically targeted to men, in areas that men will access it.

Resources Available

  • Engaging Men In Healthcare - Information Resource Paper

    This accompanying paper provides a summary of current data and evidence relating to men’s health in Victoria, including health outcomes, factors affecting men’s health, and information about key health conditions for men such as coronary heart disease, cancer and suicide.(PDF, 2.29MB)

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