Australia's Study on Men's Health: The Largest Worldwide
© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
Men's Health Week will be celebrated across the world next week (14 to 20 June 2021) and Australia is joining in with some health awareness raising activities.
Why the focus on men?
Well Australian men live shorter lives, roughly four years less than women. They are more likely than women to suffer from certain health conditions which place a higher burden on our health system, such as bowel and skin cancer, obesity, diabetes and stroke. And their behaviours, such as alcohol consumption and drug use, place them at higher risk.
Meanwhile, the average Aussie male thinks his health is fine. He takes it into his own hands by researching the Internet and not bothering a GP. If the man is of Indigenous background and/or lives in rural or remote Australia, unaddressed health conditions are much worse.
Back to Men's Health Week 2021, and it looks like our men are still not ready to discuss their health more publicly. To date, only six activities Australia-wide have been posted on the Men's Health Week website.
While partner nagging has been linked to higher mortality rates in men, if the nagging is related to visiting the GP more regularly, going to the gym or spending time with a friend, it may in fact extend a bloke's life.
While we are not rating well on public awareness raising, Australia scores highly on research. In 2013, our Federal Department of Health commenced its investment in the largest longitudinal study of male health in the world.
The study is called "Ten to Men"  and it takes it name from its methodology - to survey around 16,000 Australian males from the age of 10 through to adulthood (58 years) at regular intervals as they transition through different life stages. It is an ongoing study.
Surveying began in 2013 and the results of two waves of data, from surveys conducted in 2013 and 2016, were published in a report in November 2020.
The data revealed four themes emerging from 15,000 Australian boys and men surveyed:
- Mental Health. Poor mental health, and how it is exacerbated by loneliness.
- Excessive Drinking. Excessive drinking and its health impacts, with particular concern where drinking bouts commence at any early age.
- Weight Management. The seemingly impossible personal challenge of losing weight once overweight and obesity has "set in", and its pathway to chronic health problems.
- Attitude On Getting Medical Help. The attitude of only seeing a health practitioner when unwell, rather than having annual check ups as a prevention and early detection measure.
- While 95% of men think their health is important, most (80%) only visit their doctor when unwell and some (35%) only when pushed.
- 25% of men experience a diagnosed mental health disorder in their lifetime, those with severe depression experience relapses.
- Seven in 10 men aged 35 to 57 are either overweight or obese, and most find it difficult to lose the excess weight.
- Nine in 10 adult men have recently drunk alcohol, and a third at moderate to high-risk levels.
What can we do?
The research finds that where connections with friends and family are strong, a man's health tends to be better.
Be aware that the risk of depression, anxiety and suicidality doubles where he has no single close friend.
If you suspect a mental health issue, encourage him to visit a mental health professional. At the very least, in the name of prevention and early detection, make sure he visits a GP and dentist once a year. And for success, don't come across as nagging!
If you need support for a loved one who requires care, please reach out to me, Danielle Robertson at DR Care Solutions, for an initial discussion on how to set up the right care, support and assistance for your loved one, at the right time and in the right place.
 Men's Health Week Events
 AIHW Life Expectancy Stats: 80.7 years of age for men vs 84.9 years for women
 Independent.ie Article: Study Proves Nagging Really Can Drive Men To An Early Grave
 Ten To Men: Insights Report - Health Literacy & Health Service Use Among Australian Men
 Ten To Men Research Findings: Daraganova, G., & Quinn, B. (Eds.). (2020): Insights #1 - Findings from Ten To Men - The Australian Longitudinal Study on Male Health 2013-16. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.