Local health systems MUST act on men's health

12/06/15 . News

To mark Men's Health Week, the Men's Health Forum is writing to all Health & Wellbeing Boards in England asking them to do a better job of analysing the available data on men's health in their area.

The recent report, "The Gender Data Deficit In Local Health", by the Men’s Health Forum shows how JSNAs - the official documents assessing health in every area - are failing men (and women).

Gender Data Deficit in Local Health report cover

The Men’s Health Forum analysed all 147 available Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs), the key document local authorities rely on to understand the health of men and women in their area.

The report shows that just 18% of JSNAs adequately used data broken down by gender. Key health indicators such as lifestyle and disease prevalence and mortality are infrequently recorded by gender. To tackle this, we prepared the report comparing how different local authorities cover the health needs of men and women in their JSNAs – and providing helpful insight into how this can be improved.

The Gender Data Deficit In Local Health

  • The majority of local authorities are not addressing men’s health. Only 27 out of 147 (18%) had a majority of their measures in their JSNA local and gendered, that is broken down to show figures for men and for women in their area.​
  • An example of the problem is that a 2014 FoI request by the Men's Health Forum showed that only 35% of local authorities even knew what the gender split was on uptake of their NHS Health Checks.
  • Worryingly, areas with poor male life expectancy are not necessarily prioritising men’s health, despite the numbers of men in their area who are dying young.​
  • Local authorities are failing to recognise the importance of men’s mental health. Mental illness and mental health diagnosis rates were included by gender in just a handful of JSNAs yet 78% of people who take their own lives are male.​
  • Key lifestyle areas are regularly being overlooked. Only alcohol is included as a gendered measure in the majority of the JSNAs. Too often diet, smoking and sexual health are neglected.​
  • Figures on disease prevalence and related hospital admissions which affect men considerably more, such as cancer and coronary heart disease are not gendered leaving key gaps in the understanding of survival and the burden of disease.

The Men’s Health Forum has outlined areas of best practice where JSNAs have used local gendered data. The report also calls on local authorities to use the gendered data available and for more data to be collected nationally and locally by gender.

Men's Health Manifesto

The Men's Health Forum has also sent copies of their Men's Health Manifesto to local Health & Wellbeing Boards highlighting what changes they would like to see:

  • Analysing all available data on men’s health and other equalities in your Joint Strategic Needs Assessment
  • Reviewing men’s health at the Health and Wellbeing Board and reflect gender in your Health and Wellbeing strategy and tracking delivery
  • Integrating drug and alcohol services with mental health. Offering joined up care for people with a dual diagnosis
  • Getting to at least 50% male participation in NHS Health Checks – by designing to meet men’s needs and lifestyle – and outreach to the highest risk groups
  • Tailoring health improvement programmes – especially for weight-loss – to reflect what works with men.

Chief Executive of the Men's Health Forum, Martin Tod, commented:

In the UK, one man in five doesn't make it to 65 and local health systems need to take the lead in changing that.  Currently, too many local areas aren't even looking at health data and the effectiveness of their main health programmes by gender - and that's not just bad news for men's health.

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