Why men’s health programs are important: 9 groups of men at risk of poor health outcomes



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Health programs specifically for men are important for a number of reasons. Men generally experience poorer health outcomes than women across a range of indicators, such as:

  • lower life expectancy
  • higher rates of avoidable and premature mortality
  • higher mortality rates from most common causes of death (such as cancer, coronary heart disease, suicide and vehicle accidents).

Men are more likely to lead unhealthy lifestyles, have poor health literacy, and are less likely to engage with health services. Men more commonly engage in risk-taking behaviours, and traditional masculine values (such stoicism, independence, and strength) can negatively affect men’s health behaviours.

Health outcomes also differ between groups of men. Factors affecting these differences include socioeconomic status, ethnicity, sexuality, and age.

Some groups of men need particular attention, and therefore specifically designed health programs. The following nine groups of men are particularly at risk of poor health outcomes:

  • (1) Indigenous men experience substantially lower life expectancy and poorer health than all other men (and women). Their poorer health outcomes include higher rates of most chronic diseases, depression and suicide.


  • (2) Young men (15–34 years) have the highest rates of health risk behaviours of any men. Their avoidable mortality rates are two to three times higher than those of women in this age group.


  • (3) Men in lower socioeconomic groups have lower life expectancy than men in higher socioeconomic groups, and higher levels of injury and many chronic diseases.


  • (4) Rural men experience higher rates of suicide, mortality due to road traffic injuries, and many chronic diseases. They also experience higher levels of social isolation and depression.


  • (5) Male prisoners and ex-prisoners experience high rates of many health conditions and have a death rate four times higher than men without a prison history.


  • (6) Gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex men experience negative health impacts due to discrimination. They have higher rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, and violence.


  • (7) Older men face an increased risk (varying with age) of some health conditions. Their health risks are driven by leaving paid work, being socially isolated and having poor access to health information.


  • (8) Refugee men can experience physical, emotional and sometimes sexual trauma during displacement, and they may face barriers accessing health services during that time and when they arrive in a country of destination.


  • (9) Men with disabilities have higher rates of premature mortality and co-morbid conditions, although it is unclear if these outcomes are sex and gender specific because their continues to be inadequate health information and studies for this group.


Some men will be in multiple groups (for example, gay refugee men), and all men will experience changes in their health needs over their lifespan.


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