Call for urgent boost to men’s health programs

23-Feb-2018

Dr James Smith

Dr James Smith


Australia is well placed to make further advances in the field of men’s health but must make some urgent adjustments, a Territory public health researcher has warned.

Charles Darwin University Adjunct Professorial Research Fellow Dr James Smith said while it was encouraging that Australia had achieved some of the world’s best health outcomes for men, there was significant potential to do better.

“We know that intentional self-harm is the leading cause of mortality among males aged 15-44 years, which indicates that a greater focus on mental health programs and services for young to middle-aged men is important,” Dr Smith said.

“We also know that ischaemic heart disease is the leading cause of mortality for men 45 years and above, which shows that tailored programs and services that aim to improve the heart health of Australian men are also urgently required.”

In a co-authored article in the current edition of the Medical Journal of Australia, Dr Smith said there was substantial room for improvement in practice and policy contexts, and also in the realm of research.

“The development of a national men’s health research agenda could be particularly useful, as it has not been comprehensively revisited since 1998.”

Dr Smith said there was a need to implement a more sophisticated approach to monitoring and evaluating men’s health programs.

“It is likely that such measures would inform how men’s health promotion activities could be improved.”

Dr Smith also called for a formal evaluation of the National Male Health Policy.

“Importantly, this policy included the identification of priority groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males, males from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, males living in rural and remote Australia, males with a disability, males from culturally diverse backgrounds and other marginalised groups.

“However, international experience tells us that evaluation is an important step in the successful transition from the development to implementation phases.

“Without a review it is difficult to attribute improvements in the health of Australian men over the past decade to the National Male Health Policy,” Dr Smith said.