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Increasing male engagement in rural and remote centres

8 Apr 2024

A/Prof Tim Moss from CRANAplus partner organisation Healthy Male provides advice on strategies health practitioners can use to increase male engagement in primary health care.

The Ten to Men Aus­tralian Lon­gi­tu­di­nal Study of Male Health shows that around one in five Aus­tralian men have at least some dif­fi­cul­ty engag­ing with health­care providers, and at least one in four do not feel sup­port­ed or under­stood by health practitioners.

Under­stand­ing health beliefs and behav­iours of males can help to over­come sys­temic, struc­tur­al and per­son­al bar­ri­ers to their engage­ment with pri­ma­ry health care. 

These are some of the things health prac­ti­tion­ers can do to increase male engage­ment in pri­ma­ry care. Struc­tur­al bar­ri­ers to engag­ing with health ser­vices include a lack of male-friend­ly health set­tings, time, cost and location. 

1. Cre­ate an inclu­sive space

Prac­tices can cre­ate spaces in which men feel com­fort­able and wel­come, with gen­der-neu­tral décor, read­ing and infor­ma­tion mate­ri­als for males, and pro­mo­tion of ser­vices offered to men and boys.

2. Pri­ori­tise efficiency

Males appre­ci­ate effi­cien­cy when access­ing health ser­vices, like clear infor­ma­tion and instruc­tions (e.g. about billing and mak­ing appoint­ments), sim­ple pro­ce­dures, avoid­ance of redun­dan­cy, and mech­a­nisms to inform patients of delays in con­sul­ta­tion times if they occur.

Jack­son Pho­tog­ra­phy – stock​.adobe​.com

3. Demon­strate spe­cif­ic expertise

When it comes to sys­temic bar­ri­ers, males want to know that their health ser­vice providers have exper­tise in male health. Patient-cen­tred com­mu­ni­ca­tion that is direct and clear, strengths-based and with­out jar­gon is appre­ci­at­ed by males, as are thought­ful use of humour, empa­thy and understanding.

4. Take the lead on sex­u­al health

Males are gen­er­al­ly hap­py to be asked ques­tions about poten­tial­ly sen­si­tive issues (such as sex­u­al health and rela­tion­ships), which pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty to explore health con­cerns oth­er than their pre­sent­ing com­plaints. Pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion and edu­ca­tion ver­bal­ly to male patients is effec­tive, espe­cial­ly if they trust and respect the per­son pro­vid­ing the information.

Pos­i­tive expe­ri­ences with health prac­ti­tion­ers can moti­vate future engage­ment of males with pri­ma­ry health­care ser­vices. The abil­i­ty of health­care providers to deliv­er appro­pri­ate ser­vices to men and boys there­fore pro­vides long-term benefits.

For male health CPD activ­i­ties, head to the Healthy Male pro­file on Med­cast med​cast​.com​.au/​e​d​u​c​a​t​i​o​n​/​h​e​a​l​t​h​y​-male


Aus­tralian Insti­tute of Fam­i­ly Stud­ies. Ten to Men Aus­tralian Lon­gi­tu­di­nal Study on Male Health: Chap­ter 4 Health lit­er­a­cy and health ser­vice use among Aus­tralian men. Pub­lished Sep­tem­ber 2020. https://​aifs​.gov​.au/​s​i​t​e​s​/​d​e​f​a​u​l​t​/​f​i​l​e​s​/2023 – 10/ 2020_ttm_insights_report_chapter_4.pdf