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Health education and health screening in a sample of older men: A descriptive survey

Janette Dallas RN, MN, Nurse Manager Professional Practice Development, Christchurch Hospital

Stephen Neville RN, PhD, FCNA(NZ), Postgraduate Programme Coordinator - Nursing, School of Health and Social Services, Massey University, Albany

Dallas, J., & Neville, S. (2012). Health education and health screening in a sample of older men: A descriptive survey. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 28(1), 6-16.

Abstract

Internationally, the number of people aged over 65 is increasing, in both absolute and relative terms. There is little doubt that a healthy lifestyle, and participation in health education and health screening activities, contribute to longevity. Gender is also considered to be a strong indicator of health and longevity, as women tend to live longer and healthier lives than men. There is abundant literature on older people’s health but a significant lack of research specifically on older men.

This study involved 59 community dwelling men aged 65 years or over, living in Wanganui (a city located in the North Island of New Zealand). The aim of the study was to describe the health education and health screenings older men living in Wanganui attended, and to ascertain the barriers and/or benefits of healthy lifestyle choices. Data were collected via a self-administered questionnaire.

Findings from the study were that the majority of men reported good or excellent health. On average, men had participated in 1.6 health education programmes and attended 3.1 health screenings during the previous 12 months. Most considered there were no barriers to following a healthy lifestyle and on average identified four benefits to living a healthy lifestyle. The most common benefit reported was increased opportunities for socialisation.

While it is acknowledged that more substantive research is required with a larger heterogeneous group of older men, this study provides useful baseline data on participation in health education and health screening programmes. The study also highlights that nurses need to facilitate and provide health education and health promoting activities that support healthy lifestyle choices in older men. The findings also suggest that the Older Men’s Health Program and Screening Inventory questionnaire would need significant adaptation before it could be used with a representative sample of older New Zealand men.

Key Words: Older men, health education, health screening, gerontological nursing.

 

Introduction

A global increase in the older adult population has been documented frequently (Neville & Henrickson, 2010). For example, in New Zealand the number of people aged 65 and older has doubled in the last 50 years and is predicted to double again in the next 50 years (Statistics New Zealand, 2004). Men on average die younger than women and therefore, with advancing age, women outnumber men. The gap is narrowing however, and by the year 2021 women will make up only 51% of the 65-74 year old age group (Fletcher & Lynn, 2002). While men are active participants in research involving older adults, they commonly represent a small portion of the total participants and results tend to be generalised to the entire population, consequently data specific to men is under-reported. ...cont.

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