Australian males to be recruited for National Longitudinal 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 a large number of 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, 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 the Centre for Mental Health and Professor Dallas English, from the Centre for Epidemiology & Biostatistics. 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 testing of the questionnaires, and piloting recruitment methods, the study is currently recruiting males across the country to participate  in this important and unique initiative.  

A unique feature of the study is the wide age range being recruited with males as young as 10 years old being eligible to participate”, Dr Currier says. “Recruiting boys and young men between 10 and 17 years of age in a longitudinal study allows us to examine key transition points in men’s lives and the impact of these 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 resource 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.”