Development of primary health care nurse education program

Primary health care nurses play an integral role in delivering evidence-based health information to the community. Andrology Australia has developed an education program for primary health care nurses to provide them with the skills and knowledge to feel more confident about engaging male patients in the primary health care setting.

The program was developed with the input and advice of the Andrology Australia Primary Health Care Nurse Reference Group.

Evaluation of the Men’s Health Education program

Andrology Australia, guided by the Primary Health Care Nurse Reference Group, developed a Men’s Health Education program and undertook a pilot study of this from 2011 to 2012. The evaluation results have been published: Rizio, T.A., et al., Engaging primary healthcare nurses in men’s health education: A pilot study Nurse Education in Practice 2016;17:128-133.

Highlights include:

  • Primary health care nurses are well placed to deliver targeted men’s health promotion.
  • A train-the-trainer approach for men’s health education for nurses was evaluated.
  • After training, most facilitators expressed confidence in delivering a peer workshop.
  • After peer workshops participants felt confident and knowledgeable about men’s health.
  • Train-the-trainer appears to be an effective model to deliver men’s health education.

Background to education development

Phase 1: Identifying the education need

In collaboration with the Australian Primary Health Care Nurse Association, Andrology Australia surveyed the APNA members in 2011 to explore the level of interest and education needs in men’s health amongst practice nurses. Acknowledging a low response rate, findings from the survey highlighted:

  • 78% of respondents indicated a need for men’s health education specific for practice nurses.
  • 90% of respondents indicated an interest in education focused around ‘Engaging men in general practice’.
  • 73% of respondents were unaware of the availability of free men’s health resources from a number of men’s health organisations in Australia.

Phase 2: Developing the content and delivery strategy

As identified from the survey findings, and with input and advice from the Primary Health Care Nurse Reference Group, an education module was developed with the following key sections:

  • Overview and update of key health issues affecting Australian males.
  • Opportunities for promoting men’s health in the community and primary health care setting.
  • Strategies to engage men in the primary health care setting.

The aim of the education module was to equip primary health care nurses with education and skills in engaging men in the primary health care setting and identifying opportunities to confidently discuss health and well-being, particularly issues of a sensitive nature.

The Primary Health Care Nurse Reference Group identified peer-peer education as being the most appropriate delivery method for the education module. A train-the-trainer strategy was developed with a pilot workshop held to test the delivery strategy.

Phase 3: Pilot train-the-trainer workshop

A one day (held over two half days) pilot train-the-trainer workshop was held in Melbourne in September 2011. A total of 18 experienced practice nurse facilitators attended, representing GP Divisions/Networks from all states and territories (excluding ACT).

The aims of this pilot workshop were:

  • To determine if participants of the pilot (trainers) are sufficiently equipped and confident to delivery the information to their peers.
  • To monitor Divisions/GP networks delivering the train-the-trainer education module after the initial workshop.
  • To determine if the module content is relevant and useful to practice nurses who participate in Divisional workshops.
  • To use the information gained from the pilot to inform the national roll-out of the train-the-trainer men’s health education module.

During 2012, the practice nurse facilitators delivered education sessions to primary health care nurses in their own GP Division/Network. A comprehensive evaluation was implemented to evaluate the experience of both facilitators and participants.

Phase 4: GP Division/Network workshops

The pilot phase of the Practice Nurse Men’s Health Education program was completed. Eight divisions from across the country participated in the program delivering workshops for their practice nurses (a total of 98 participants).

The evaluation findings have highlighted that the program was well received with more than 85 per cent of participating nurses indicating they have more confidence in engaging men in discussions about their health, a better understanding of men’s health issues and the factors influencing men’s help-seeking behaviour.

Phase 5: Outcome and significance of the project

Outcomes from the evaluation informed the delivery of Andrology Australia online education to a wider population of primary health care nurses across Australia.

The project encouraged an increase in workforce capacity. This allowed primary health care workers to be more proactive in raising the awareness of men’s health, in particular, engaging men in discussions about their health and well-being and promoting evidence-based men’s health resources.

Phase 6: Increasing access through online learning

The content from the original education module was adapted for the online elearning module Primary Health Care for Men, reviewed by primary health care nurses from the Andrology Australia Primary Health Care Nurse Reference Group, then endorsed by APNA for 2 CPD hours. It was released live in September 2015, free to any health professional.

By completing this course, nurses will improve their understanding of male reproductive health disorders (including the associations between reproductive health and chronic disease), learn strategies to engage men about sensitive reproductive health disorders and identify opportunities for health promotion activities in the local community. The course comprises three units:

APNA CPD Endorsed

  • Unit 1: Reproductive health
  • Unit 2: Engaging men in primary care
  • Unit 3: Men’s health promotion.

This activity has been endorsed by APNA according to approved quality standards criteria. Completion of this educational activity entitles eligible participants to claim 2 CPD hours.

You can access this free course Andrology Australia eLearning—just register and login. All courses on Andrology Australia’s eLearning portal are free and available for any health professional as self-directed learning.

More information

For more information about the Primary Health Care Nurse Reference Group, please contact:

Vanessa Jones
Health Promotion Manager


Acknowledgment: Andrology Australia would like to thank all those Divisions and practice nurses, particularly the facilitators, for their participation in the pilot program and their support and interest in improving men’s health.

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