Analysis

Europe’s men need their own health strategy

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d7397 (Published 29 November 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7397
  1. Alan White, professor of men’s health1,
  2. Martin McKee, professor of European public health2,
  3. Noel Richardson, director3,
  4. Richard de Visser, lecturer4,
  5. Svend Aage Madsen, head of department of psychology, play therapy, and social counselling5,
  6. Bruno C de Sousa, research fellow6,
  7. Richard Hogston, director1,
  8. Witold Zatoński, director7,
  9. Péter Makara, professor8
  1. 1Centre for Men’s Health, Institute for Health and Wellbeing, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds LS2 8NU, UK
  2. 2London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  3. 3Centre for Men’s Health, Institute of Technology Carlow, Carlow, Ireland
  4. 4School of Psychology, University of Sussex, Falmer, UK
  5. 5Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark
  6. 6Centro de Malária e Doenças Tropicais, Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
  7. 7Department of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, Cancer Centre and Institute of Oncology, Warsaw, Poland
  8. 8Institute of Public Health, Semmelweiss University, Budapest, Hungary
  1. Correspondence to: A White a.white{at}leedsmet.ac.uk

A recent European report on men’s health shows that it lags behind that of women. Alan White and colleagues analyse the problems and call for more policy, practice, and research aimed specifically at men

Ten years ago the BMJ published a special issue on men’s health.1 It noted how, although men fare better than women in most conventional measures such as top jobs and earnings, this advantage is not reflected in their health. A report we produced this summer, The State of Men’s Health in Europe,2 3 shows that little has changed. At any given age, men are still more likely than women to die from most of the leading causes, and in the European Union men have more than twice as many deaths a year as women throughout the working ages (15-64 years). This high level of premature mortality in men has psychological, social, and economic consequences for relatives, households, communities, and the workplace. Yet, in both national and European health policy, men and “masculinity” are largely taken for granted. This has limited the development of evidence based programmes that meet their health needs.

Differences in mortality and morbidity are not simply the result of biological factors; nor are they intractable. In fact, the health gap between men and women varies considerably. It is much greater in eastern Europe than in western Europe,4 and within countries it is influenced by class, education, employment, and other social determinants.5 The clustering of material, cultural, and psychosocial factors seems to be particularly detrimental to the health of many men.6 These factors contribute to gendered lifestyles and behaviours that have traditionally been seen as predominantly “masculine”7 and that cause many of the premature deaths in men. Traditional masculine attitudes are associated with unhealthy behaviours such as …

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