Media Alert: Men's Health experts speak out at national conference

Date: 07/10/2009

Addressing social factors, not just expanding medical treatment, are essential to improve men's health according to researchers from the University of Western Sydney presenting at the National Men's Health Gathering in Newcastle this week.

Professor John Macdonald, co-director of the Men's Health Information and Resource Centre (MHIRC) at UWS says previous approaches to caring for men's health and well-being are not as effective as those targeting women.

He says males currently have a lower life expectancy and die at much faster rates from disease - particularly cancer, heart disease and respiratory illnesses - compared to females.

"By incorporating social factors in men's health initiatives we might finally be able to breakthrough and bring lasting improvements to men's health. The challenge of increasing life expectancy and the quality of life for men in Australia is beyond a purely medical response," says Professor Macdonald who is also one of the Federal Government's Men's Health Ambassadors.

He says social issues such as unemployment, family break-ups, access to medical advice after hours, and supporting young fathers and isolated elderly men often at risk of suicide need to be considered in the health response.

"It's also vitally important the negative and unproductive focus on blaming men for their poor health outcomes - held by some in the past - is redirected to providing the tailored services and information required to address men's unique health needs.

"We need to take on board the social determinants of men's health not just focus on men's behaviour," Professor Macdonald says.

Additional UWS experts speaking this week at the National Men's Health Gathering are also available to comment on the unique health and social challenges facing men and boys, and to discuss the positive steps males can take to improve their well being.

* Mr Micheal Woods has been Co-director of the Men's Health Information & Resource Centre since its inception in 1999. He is a Senior Lecturer in the College of Health and Science at UWS teaching in areas of Public Health. He is also a registered psychologist with a particular interest in community psychology and the social basis of health and well-being.

* Mr Anthony Brown has been the coordinator of the annual men's health week in NSW since 2001 and was part of the Australian delegation to the International Congress of Men's Health in 2002 which adopted the International Men's Health Week. He is the project officer at MHIRC and assists groups and organisations working with men and boys by providing support, information and networking opportunities.

* Mr Rick Welsh is responsible for supporting Indigenous health groups across NSW.

The UWS Men's Health Information and Resource Centre designs, develops and supports research and projects which contribute to the enhancement of the health and well-being of men and boys across every aspect of their lives from personal to family, work and the community.



Senior Media Officer

Paul Grocott
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