58,000 to be recruited for male health study
Two centres within the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health are jointly leading Australia’s first major longitudinal study of male health. The Australian Longitudinal Study on Male Health called Ten To Men will recruit 58,000 males between the ages of 10 and 55 to take part in a broad-ranging program of research.
Funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, the study was commissioned under the Federal Government’s 2010 national male health policy. It is charged with providing the evidence base that will inform the development of policies and programs, says Dr. Dianne Currier, Ten To Men’s study coordinator. “Establishing a strong evidence base will enable us to answer questions such as why some men do badly on a range of health outcomes, such as mental health for example, and how these outcomes might be improved.”
The study’s two chief investigators are Professor Jane Pirkis, Director of CHPPE (Centre for Health Policy, Programs and Economics), and Professor Dallas English, Director of MEGA (Molecular, Environmental, Genetic and Analytic) Epidemiology. The study was commissioned in June 2011. It has come a long way, owing to numerous researchers and experts and their tireless contribution, says Prof. Jane Pirkis. After development and cognitive testing of the questionnaires, the study design is currently being field tested. In mid-2013, 58,000 Australian males will become part of this important and unique initiative.
Young males will be over represented because, as a group, they have been under researched, Dr Currier says. Nine thousand will be recruited for each of two groups: boys aged 10 to14 and youths aged 15 to 17. “This allows us to examine key transition points in men’s lives and the impact it has on lifestyles and health. We can follow these younger groups through school, as they enter the workforce, establish relationships and become fathers.” She says this will present policy opportunities for supporting the health and wellbeing of Australian males at these key life stages.
The study’s focus on the social, environmental, behavioural and cultural determinants of health is a novel aspect. “The determinants we will consider include masculinity and health, work environments, housing, and, of course, socio- economic status,” she says. “We hope to gain a better understanding of the cause and effect relationships between these determinants and male health.”
Dr Currier says the rich data resources that Ten To Men is expected to yield would benefit other researchers in the future – but how far into the future would depend on the department’s continuing support. “Every year the study continues will reveal more – allowing us to drill down deeper.”