Men tend to be less proactive when it comes to their health care than women. They access fewer primary care services and they take fewer preventative measures. This results in an increase in their use of emergency services – often for situations that would have been more efficiently treated in an outpatient setting.

In their new article, Nurse Practitioners and Men’s Primary Health Care, Marina Rosu, Dr. John Oliffe, and Mary Kelly discuss key strategies that Nurse Practitioners can use to better reach and address men’s health needs. We had the chance to speak with Dr. John Oliffe, and Marina Rosu about their findings.

Why address NPs specifically?

John and Marina both stressed that NPs can play a key role in men’s use of primary care services, which would help alleviate the added pressure that emergency departments often face, and advance the wellbeing of men and their families.

“Previous research has identified that men do not engage with the health care system easily and therefore miss out on the education piece that NPs and other primary care workers provide. Since NPs focus on health promotion and injury prevention this is a great fit for us as this is what men’s health is lacking” – Marina

“To message NPs specifically around primary health care, in terms of masculinities and in terms of men’s health, we thought it might be a good opportunity to lobby a different interaction for the blokes who do seek out some primary health care.” – John

By working to address, challenge, and capitalize on norms of masculinity and masculine behaviours, NPs can better reach and include men in primary health care services.

What can NPs and other service providers take away from this article?

“Each male patient has a different view of masculinity and there is no one approach that works best. Treatment plans need to be tailored to the individual.” – Marina

The article suggests that drawing on men’s strengths and balancing power dynamics between service providers and individuals can help optimize men’s health. Specifically, this can help men to better understand their role in their own health, affirm their engagement and knowledge, and enhance their confidence and resilience to assert and follow through with actionable health strategies.

“If you affirm a guy in a strength-based approach, he’s more likely to take on health than be estranged from it.” – John

“Working together to arrive at a treatment plan will strengthen the patient-provider relationship and allow men to feel like they are in control of their health which is very empowering.” – Marina

What next?

“I would love to see some of these strategies implemented into practice by all health care providers and not only by NPs. I would also love to see how these strategies impact men’s health and if as a result men are more willing to engage with and take charge of their health.” – Marina

“I think if the interactions are good and you’ve got some good strategies going away, it could be a real game-changer about how we even think about male health care.” – John

The full article can be accessed here.