Sir George looked in at the stand in the Chantry Centre, funded by the Mid-Hampshire Primary Care Trust, to help launch Men's Health Awareness Week.
"Men are notoriously less careful about their health than women, so I very much welcome this initiative. I was told that, whereas men are very often accompanied by their wives to clinics, the reverse is not often the case. Wives or partners often make the man go to the doctor - whicvh apparently is one of the reasons that married men live longer."
The stand offered blood testing, and information about men's illnesses and exercise and diet.
The week proved a big success; 245 men attended, of which 17 were referred to their Practice Nurse to be checked (7%). 30 women also attended the stand on their own behalf, with another 20 women picking up information for their partners, fathers or sons.
Prostate problems and dietary advice was amongst the most popular information that was sought after.
The Primary Care Trust are pleased with its success and hope to repeat the event next year, possibly in a different location.
Results in more detail.
MEN’S HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK 10-15th JUNE 2002 – ANDOVER
A week long Men’s Health Awareness event took place between Monday 10th – Saturday 15th June in the Chantry Shopping Centre in Andover, Hampshire. It was held by the Mid-Hampshire Primary Care Trust who are committed to seeking innovative ways to improve the health of their local population.
Community Nurses staffed the event, with help from Health Visitors, Practice Nurse and Nurses from the Trust’s Preventing Dependency Team. The stands were manned between 9am – 5pm offering advice on heart disease, prostate problems, testicular cancer, skin cancer and sexual health. Blood pressure and blood sugar checks were also offered as well as weight for height measurements. Anyone referred to their Practice Nurse for a follow up was given two copies of their ‘test certificate’ and asked to give one of these to the nurse. In this way it should be possible to audit the numbers of men who took the advice given and visited their Surgery,
Two hundred and ninety five ‘face to face’ contacts were made over the week. Within this total were thirty women who also asked to have a check up. It was suggested to three of these that it would be a good idea to make an appointment with their Practice Nurse for further advice.
Included in the total number were twenty women who came in seeking health information for their partners, fathers or sons. It was thought fair to include these in the final total, as these were men who would be receiving health information that they probably had not seen before the event. No account was taken of men or women who came to the stand and took information leaflets without speaking with staff.
The remaining two hundred and forty five men presented for a variety of reasons, some simply interested to know what their blood pressure was, many not having seen their GP ‘in years’. Of the 173 blood pressures taken, (71% of total), 15, (8.7%) were asked to see their Practice Nurse to have it re-checked. One gentleman who was found to have raised blood pressure early in the week after playing badminton returned later in the week to let us know he had seen his Practice Nurse and it was within normal limits. Extremely high readings were discovered on two men, one of which attended his Surgery on the following Monday morning and after being seen by his GP, commenced treatment.
The offer of taking blood sugars was taken up by 90 men (37%) and two of these were asked to have it re-checked as it was outside normal limits. Evidence from similar events has shown that offering something tangible, like blood pressure checks, enticed men to attend and staff were then able to address other health issues by informal discussion.
The heart disease stand included the ’Balance of Good Health’ display, consisting of five wooden table segments creating a plate, representing the Health Education Authorities ‘Balance of Good Health Design’. The selection of foodstuffs on the plate, especially the plastic fruit created a lot of interest and drew people into the stand. Dietary advice was sought by 30% of the men who attended. Smoking cessation was not covered in any detail due to the constraints of space as it was felt that to do it justice it would demand a display of its own. Just 5 men discussed smoking with staff (2%). The other aspect of heart disease covered was exercise, 21 men, (9%), discussed this with staff. The local Leisure Centre had supplied a number of ‘free membership’ passes for a two week period which were useful to give out especially to those men who wanted to exercise more but ‘had not got round to it’.
Information about the early symptoms of prostate problems was keenly sought by 93 men, (36%). This high demand may well have been influenced by recent press reports that prostate cancer is soon to overtake lung cancer as the biggest cancer killer of men. Anyone with specific questions about urological problems was asked to return on Saturday when a Urological Specialist Nurse was available on the stand.
An interesting visual display including an anatomical model of male genitalia helped to explain why early symptoms are related to urine flow. Being able to show where the prostate was helped men to appreciate why a digital rectal examination was the first investigation that a GP undertook. An excellent learning tool provided by Pfizer Ltd, enabled men to see and feel the normal size and texture of a prostate gland and also demonstrated enlargement and cancerous prostates.
Testicular cancer information was sought by 19 men (8%) and the majority of these were aged at the higher end of the ‘at risk group’. This demonstrates how difficult it is to reach the younger age group with public display boards of this type. This was also the case with sexual health with just 5 men (2%) seeking information. In order to meet the health needs of this age group the message needs to be taken to where young men are, at school or in the work place.
Information and advice on skin cancer was sought by 18 men (7%). A few of these asked staff to look at areas of skin or moles they were concerned about. At all times the advice given was the same, that if they were concerned and it was a new area or a change in the usual appearance, it was worth reporting to their Practice Nurse for further advice. The posters and information displayed lacked pictures of different moles or skin lesions, this may well be beneficial to other displays in the future.
The week was seen by both men and women as very worthwhile with many commenting how good an idea it was to target men in this way. With the event extending over a whole week men were able to attend when it suited them. One gentleman attended on Monday, brought his father on Tuesday and his son on Wednesday. It demonstrated that men are interested in seeking health advice and the challenge for health professionals is how to get the advice to where men are. There was a relaxed atmosphere on the stand and men were able to discuss issues with staff without being hurried. On a number of occasions men were able to ask questions that they said they felt were too trivial to go and see their GP about but were important to them. Another reason given for not attending their Surgery was that when they did attend, they rarely saw the same GP. The presence of a male nurse on the stand throughout the week helped some men discuss issues that they were evidently uncomfortable talking to a female nurse about.
The site chosen to mount the display was ideal. It was centrally situated in the shopping centre where three avenues of shops meet. Andover has only the one Shopping Centre in the High Street, so it was likely that the majority of shoppers would see the display. There was evidence that partners had seen the display earlier in the week and told their partners, fathers and sons who came later in the week. The week also benefited from the local radio station, Andover FM, going on air for a second test transmission on the launch day of Men’s Health Week. They were keen to help cover the event and a member of staff found themselves ‘on air’ each day covering each of the subject areas in the display.
Contacts were made with other organisations over the course of the week who expressed an interest in providing this type of display and input from health professionals as part of their own event. Following the success of this week, the Mid-Hants Primary Care Trust is looking into the feasibility of doing another event in another area and are hoping to engage more with members of the public to see how best they can meet the health needs of the local population.
Staff that took part in the week found it to be a very rewarding experience and each one commented on how enjoyable it had been.