Understanding Inequities in Men’s Health in Australia

What Do We Know?

Authored by: James A. Smith , Murray Drummond , Mick Adams , Jason Bonson , Christie Benjamin

Men’s Health Equity

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  April  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138052963
eBook ISBN: 9781315167428
Adobe ISBN:


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For at least the past four decades, it has been well documented that Australian men die at a younger age than Australian women (Smith, Richardson, & Robertson, 2016). The most current national data show that life expectancy for males in Australia is improving, but there remains a substantial life expectancy gap (4.6 years) between men and women (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [AIHW], 2011, 2017). Some scholars have argued that examining binary sex differences in mortality and morbidity between men and women does little to meaningfully address men’s health in research, policy, and practice spheres (Richardson, 2004; Schofield, 2004). We tend to agree. However, it is important to understand that these differences relate to high levels of disease burden and injury among men (AIHW, 2011, 2017). In particular, high levels of morbidity associated with lifestyle factors such as low levels of fruit and vegetable intake, insufficient physical activity, excess body fat, smoking, harmful levels of alcohol consumption, illicit drug use, violence, and risky sexual practices all contribute to this trend (AIHW, 2011, 2017). This observation is succinctly summarized in The Health of Australia’s Males (AIHW, 2011) report:

Research has consistently shown a sex differential in illness and mortality. Males have a shorter life expectancy, higher mortality from most causes of death (particularly ­injuries and intentional self-harm) and a higher lifetime risk of many cancers and chronic conditions.

(p. 2)

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