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Gender matters

With practice nurses an integral part of delivering health information within general practice, a new program will ensure they are equipped to deal with men’s health issues, writes Annie May.

As Australia’s health care emphasis became more focused on prevention and primary health care, practice nurses are well placed to deliver essential education, diagnostic and referral services.
However, when it comes to male-specific health issues, many practice nurses are in need of further education, a study found.

Andrology Australia surveyed 173 Australian Practice Nurses Association (APNA) members, finding the majority of practice nurses have never undertaken professional education on male reproductive health topics such as erectile dysfunction and prostate disease.

There has been some education on men’s health issues in relation to diabetes and lifestyle, but not so much on male-specific issues,” says Dr Carol Holden, Andrology Australia CEO.
“More than 75 per cent of survey respondents indicated they would like more education on men’s health issues, while almost two-thirds did not know where to find evidence-based men’s health resources.”
To address this, Andrology Australia is leading an education program on the major health problems of Australian men, developed specifically for practice nurses.
“This education program is a timely intervention given the newly released National Male Health Policy focused on improving the health of all Australian men, harnessing their strengths and realising parity in groups of men in at-risk groups such as Indigenous males,” says Holden.
The program has been developed by the Andrology Australia Practice Nurse Education Reference Group, with the majority of members practice nurses.
The education module will address the major health problems of Australian males, primary health care access, the role of the practice nurse and strategies to engage men in discussion about their health, including sensitive issues.
It will have a strong emphasis on ways to educate men about their health, and raise awareness in the greater community, says Holden.
The program will be a train the trainer module, and will be transferable to all primary health nurses.
Holden says the module would undergo extensive review and piloting prior to national roll-out in 2011 through Divisions of General Practice/GP networks.
The education will also be accredited through the Royal College of Nursing, Australia and APNA, as part of nurses’ ongoing professional development.

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