Flying Doctors' Male-Friendly Health Program Takes Off

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has launched a male-friendly health prevention service that’s taking off in South Australia.

Best known for its emergency retrievals, RFDS is also involved in primary and preventative health and its medical teams have begun targeting outback events like rodeos to promote men’s health.

As well as being on hand to deliver first-aid, medical teams offer health checks to men which include measuring blood pressure and glucose levels. They also promote cancer awareness, providing guidance on how to check for testicular cancer and skin cancer.

The RFDS piloted the scheme in 2017 by attending four events and the success of the program means it’s expanding to up to eight events in 2018.

The idea of making health programs more accessible to men by taking services to “where men are”, is one of the most common characteristics of successful, male-friendly services.

Experience shows that men are interested in their health and will respond positively to a male-friendly approach. One of the men who benefited from the health checks, Rob Cox, told the ABC:

“It’s very beneficial, you turn up, you sit down, five minutes later you’ve been checked. I think it’s a good way to get to the masses, particularly the men”.

Research on men’s health has long show that men face a wide range of barriers to accessing healthcare that can be overcome by making health services more male friendly. Two of the commonly cited cultural barriers to men accessing health services are “unhelpful gender stereotypes” and “negative attitudes towards men”.

One of most common gender health stereotypes is that “men don’t get help with their health”, a stereotype which a recent ABC report on the Flying Doctor’s excellent men’s health service reinforces with statements like:

  • “Men…are reluctant to front up to a doctor”
  • “Getting men to see health professionals can be a battle”
  • “Men in the bush are even less likely to seek medical help or advice”

As the Flying Doctors in South Australia have shown, when health services take a male-friendly approach, more men of all backgrounds will access their services.

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