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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : October 2005
men’s health Engaging men’s interest in their own health is a major challenge for health professionals, including pharmacists. LISA OFFORD spoke to men’s health educator Bernard Denner, general practitioner Dr David Oberklaid, and pharmacist Mark Feldschuh to identify how pharmacists may be able to assist men with their healthcare needs Different strokes for different blokes ‘A T present men’s health is still at the stage of identifying how we best approach men, inspire their interest in preventative healthcare, attract their attention to public health programs and generally raise their awareness of the health services and health professionals available for their use,’ Bernard Denner said. ‘Men need education about issues regarding diet, exercise, stress manage- ment and family traits as risk factors in the onset and progression of disease. ‘They need to understand that once symptoms arise it is often too late, and that health services are not just available to treat acute health problems,’ he said. Mr Denner said pharmacists were ide- ally placed to offer lifestyle advice, health education and a range of screening; importantly pharmacists could help bridge the gaps between patient and GP. Fulfilling that role, however, was a big ask. ‘The big thing is that doctors assume–remembering that the average doctor appointment is seven minutes— that the pharmacist is actually going to talk to the patient about the medication they are prescribing,’ Mr Denner said. ‘However, there is hardly any bloke, unless he has nothing to do and time to kill, who will stand in line in a pharmacy and have a pharmacist or a pharmacy assistant explain what his medication is,’ he said. ‘And that’s the big downside for men at the moment; baby boomers in particular who are most vulnerable from a health perspective and who are new to the field of medicine, have no idea about medica- tion,’ he said. Melbourne-based GP David Oberklaid has a special interest in men’s health and believes the best way to deal with male patients is to be opportunistic. ‘For example, men are notoriously bad in adhering to medications and looking after themselves,’ Dr Oberklaid said. ‘Pharmacists would often be in a situa- tion where they would notice that a male with high blood pressure is only picking up a prescription once a year, when a lot of them would have run out after six months,’ he said. ‘This situation would provide a phar- macist with the opportunity to discuss adherence and that a really important health issue,’ Dr Oberklaid said. Dr Oberklaid is particularly interested in encouraging other GPs to offer com- prehensive health checks to their male patients. He recommends making surg- eries more male-friendly by having car magazines and newspapers in the waiting room and opening after-hours to make access for working men easier. ‘The problem for pharmacists and GPs is that they are so busy with day-to-day activities they haven’t got time to look at comprehensive health issues for men,’ Dr Oberklaid said. THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL.86 OCTOBER 2005 ? 801