Ph.D. Svend Aage Madsen

“Looking at health through a gender lens”

The patient has a gender. Men and women’s differences go well beyond biology and physical characteristics. The State of Men’s Health report outlines these differences from the male’s perspective. Ph.D. Svend Aage Madsen, Vice President of European Men’s Health Forum (EMHF) which is associate member of EPF, looks at these differences.

Men’s life expectancy is four to eight years lower than women across Europe. There is also a strong gender dimension to lifestyle choices and risky behaviours. They place men at higher risk of ill health than women.

However men feel generally more satisfied about their health and well-being than women. It is the same for patients. Men react differently towards treatments and bad news than women.  While women seek consolation, men get away from pain, take distance or ‘opt out’.

Looking at healthcare through a ‘gender lens’ has enabled fresh insights to be gained. Gender equality initiatives are of course needed. Key health policies are indirectly affecting men’s health in a positive way, such as smoking bans, road safety legislation, health and safety in the workplace.

However health care systems must take into consideration gender differences and therefore develop more male-sensitive services. They have to consider that men will often want to diminish the patient role and the impact of the disease in everyday life. They have to deal with the fact that men often need to maintain autonomy and self-determination as patients and prefer advice to help.

“Time to improve men’s health: the next step for the EU?”- This issue will be raised at the European Commission with the presence of the new Commissioner for Health Tonio Borg on 19 March. Link to the event information:

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