New guide gives strategies to engage Indigenous men in health services

Significant barriers affect the way Indigenous men access health services – particularly in remote areas – but the country’s peak authority on male reproductive health is aiming to break down those issues and improve outcomes.

Clinical Summary Guide No. 12Andrology Australia has developed a new Clinical Summary Guide for health professionals titled, “Engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in primary care settings,” which details strategies for health services and encourages cultural competency training.

Chair of Andrology Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men’s Health Working Group, Associate Professor Mark Wenitong said there were many factors influencing health service access and help-seeking behaviour for Indigenous men, especially when it involved discussing sexual issues.

“These include societal concerns such as masculinity and gender roles and illness stigma, as well as cultural – for example traditional gender-related lore,” A/Professor Wenitong said.

“Cultural competency training is essential to overcome barriers affecting how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men access health services, and our Clinical Summary Guide suggests some culturally appropriate strategies for discussing sexual health issues.”

Building trust and respect

A/Professor Mark Wenitong

A/Professor Wenitong

“It is very important to provide a safe, private and comfortable environment that supports open and free dialogue,” A/Professor Wenitong added.

“Men may not open up in the first consultation – it takes time to build trust and respect. It can be helpful to make the clinic conducive to talking about sensitive issues, for example, acknowledging there may be specific cultural concerns regarding sexual health matters or having a model of the male pelvis in the room to illustrate specific diseases.”

The new Clinical Summary Guide will be released today (Thursday, 30 October 2014) at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA) National Conference in Canberra.

Development of the Clinical Summary Guide was supported with input and guidance from the Andrology Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health Reference group.

In addition to this guide, Andrology Australia recently produced an education DVD for health professionals titled “A lot of Aboriginal men sort of keep it to themselves“.

The DVD provides interviews with health professionals and tips for how to initiate dialogue and engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men about reproductive health.

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