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Project ID: HPSE-CT-1999-00008
Finanziato nell'ambito di: FP5-HUMAN POTENTIAL
Paese: United Kingdom

The social problem of men: Health

The major recurring theme here is men’s relatively low life expectancy, poor health, accidents, suicide, morbidity. Some studies see traditional masculinity as hazardous to health. Men suffer and die more and at a younger age from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases, accidents and violence than women. Socio-economic factors, qualifications, social status, life style, diet, smoking and drinking, hereditary factors, as well as occupational hazards, can all be important for morbidity and mortality.

Gender differences in health arise from how certain work done by men are hazardous occupations. Evidence suggests that generally men neglect their health and that for some men at least their ‘masculinity’ is characterised by risk taking, especially for younger men (in terms of smoking, alcohol and drug taking, unsafe sexual practices, road accidents, lack of awareness of risk), an ignorance of their bodies, and a reluctance to seek medical intervention for suspected health problems. There has been relatively little academic work on men’s health and men’s health practices from a gendered perspective in many countries.

Policy recommendations on men’s health:
Our recommendations include: to improve men’s health; to facilitate men’s improved health practices, including use of health services; and to connect men’s health to forms of masculinity, such as risk-taking behaviour. To fully understand, and deal with, the dynamics around the health problems of at least some men we may need to connect those problems to dominant, or even in some cases oppressive, ways of “being a man”: for instance, risk-taking behaviour relevant to some injuries and addictions; or an almost “macho” unwillingness to take one’s health problems seriously and seek medical help; or the marked violence which enters into the methods which a number of men seem to use to commit suicide. This point is also a good example of a more general conclusion arising from the Network outcomes which is highly relevant for policy-makers: in designing policy interventions one must seek to bridge the central divide which has previously existed in much research on men i.e the splitting of studies which focus on “problems which some experience” from those which explore “the problems which some create”.

Our other recommendations in the field of men’s health were: to focus on the negative effects of men’s health problems upon women and children; to ensure that focusing on men’s health does not reduce resources for women’s and children’s health. Once again, this final point is one which we would wish to emphasise and to apply broadly across all the policy areas above: the creation of effective policy interventions in the field of men’s practices are vital. However, they must never be made at the expense of funding for services to women and/or children.


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