Men’s health is improving in specialist ‘men only’ health areas but in cases where men and women have similar health needs, men still fare less well.
That is one of the conclusions of the Swiss Gender and Health Report (Rapport d’approfondissement Genre et Santé) published earlier this year.
The report looked at three areas of health: suicide and violence, mental health and ageing and care needs. The aim was to look at the effect gender had on health outcomes over ten years since Switzerland’s 1996 report on the health of women.
The report, by the Swiss Office of Public Health (office fédéral de la santé publique), concludes that the health chances of men are improving with regard to suicide, life expectancy and number of healthy living years. Similar changes can be seen in mental health.
A full explanation of this is difficult, the report says, as most of the data available concerns treatment. It is possible that medical improvements are simply compensating for men’s continued social disadvantage. Little is known about the link between work and health, for example.
Little is also known about the impact of masculinity. The report’s findings suggest that norms of behaviour for men are often incompatible with good health. Addressing this, the report concludes, is key to improving male health.
The reports calls for an improvement in statistics and in gender sensitivity in the analysis of those statistics. It also calls for more longitudinal studies and for more targeted measures for specific groups - unemployed men, widowed or divorced men, for example.
Download Swiss Gender and Health Report (Rapport d’approfondissement Genre et Santé):