Male-friendly service finds out what ‘ales’ men

Albury GP Rebecca McGowan has taken the concept of a male-friendly health service to the next level by developing a program that connects with blokes in a popular social setting – the local pub.

Called ‘Prick and Pint’ (PNAP) Dr McGowan has prescribed information sessions and health check-ups delivered by volunteer GPS … along with a free beverage.

Meeting once a month, the men are familiar with their GPs and encouraged to take routine blood tests and health checks that otherwise might not be addressed. 

"We don’t go through their individual blood results in the program, but we do talk about things like, 'This is what you would expect your cholesterol to be'; cardiovascular risk percentages and what we’re aiming for; blood sugar levels, so they can go back and reflect on their own results and see how they compare," says GP Dr Christie Rodda, an early adopter of the year-year-old program.

The talks can last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Dr Rodda has found that the men she sees have loads of questions and curiosity.

"I think too often in medicine we dumb things down or we don’t give enough information and education, and we underestimate the appetite for learning about one’s own health. I’ve got a group of guys who, once you start talking about a little bit of basic physiology, they just love it and they go to town with their questions. It really keeps me on my toes."

The groups have fostered deeper connections between men, and led to some significant behavioral changes.

"For example, a couple of them have said, 'I never drink soft drinks anymore. I wasn’t aware they were so bad'. There are others that have really increased their exercise every week, or reduced their alcohol intake,” she told NewsGP

The program ran as five pilot groups in north-east Victoria, with plans to extend into NSW and South Australia.

"We have also improved the men’s relationships with their GPs and understanding of the health system and their role in it,” said Dr McGowan. "It’s very satisfying to think that you’re making an impact and educating a population.”

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