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Australian medical students lack specific training in men’s health: survey

According to a new survey published on 8 March 2024 at BMC Medical Education, medical students in Australia need more training in gender-based health issues.

The *authors canvassed 83 students from 17 accredited medical schools in their fourth year of training to determine how prepared they felt for men’s clinical practice.

65% reported minimal to no men’s health coverage in their training, although 78% said they would have liked more formal training. Qualitative findings in the online survey showed students felt underprepared to engage male patients.

The authors pointed out that an objective of the Australian Men’s National Health Strategy (2020-2030) is to improve practitioner core competencies in men’s health “as a critical step to reducing the burden of disease in men and disparities between men in health care access and outcomes.”

Men continue to die prematurely due to a large number of largely preventable causes, including heart disease, lung cancer, road deaths, workplace deaths, alcohol-induced deaths and suicide.

Read: What Needs to Change in Men’s Health (AMHF, May 2022)

It is clear, state the authors, that practitioners experience challenges in reaching, responding to and retaining men in care.

“A central consideration when designing solutions to these challenges is the role of gender, the complex interplay of social and cultural meanings and practices related to being a man or woman.

“For men, gender socialisation and traditional masculine norms such as emotional restriction, self-reliance, stoicism and risk-taking, have been shown to impede uptake and ongoing engagement in healthcare.

“Gender biases also influence how healthcare professionals view men and their health, with men frequently stereotyped as ‘bad patients’, delaying help-seeking, refusing to openly communicate their concerns, and being less likely to engage in regular check-ups.”

However, without an update to health practitioner training, “we risk a continuation of the status quo, whereby individual responsibility falls on the shoulders of male patients to adapt to a health system which often overlooks and/or misunderstands their needs.”

The study calls for men’s health educators to respond to a “clear desire among students” for more comprehensive gender-sensitive, competency-based training, “that could serve to improve their confidence and competence to effectively reach, respond to and retain men in health services.”

Download: “I’d Have No Idea How To Go About This …” a survey of Australian medical students’ perspectives on their men’s health education

*Authors and Affiliations

Zac E. Seidler, Michelle Sheldrake & Margaret A. McGee

Zac E. Seidler, Ruben Benakovic & Michael J. Wilson

Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Zac E. Seidler, Ruben Benakovic & Michael J. Wilson

Australian Medical Students’ Association, Australian Capital Territory, Barton, Australia
Jasmine M. Davis

University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Jasmine M. Davis




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