Health improvement for men and hard-to-engage-men delivered in English Premier League football clubs

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Abstract

Unhealthy behaviours represent modifiable causes of non-communicable disease. In men, concern focuses on those (i) demonstrating the poorest health, exacerbated by a lack of awareness of the risks that their lifestyles pose and (ii) who neither consult their doctor nor use health services. Classed as ‘hard-to-engage’, distinctive strategies are needed to reach these men. Impact and process evaluations assessed the effect of a programme of men’s health-delivered in/by English Premier League football clubs. Men attended match-day events and/or weekly classes involving physical activity and health education. Validated self-report measures for demographics and lifestyle behaviours were completed pre- and post-intervention. Intention-to-treat analysis was performed on pre-versus-post-intervention differences in lifestyle profiles, whereas interviews (n = 57) provided men’s accounts of programme experience. Participants were predominantly white British (70.4%/n = 2669), 18–44 (80.2%/n = 3032) and employed (60.7%/n = 1907). One-third (n = 860) ‘never’ visited their doctor. Over 85% (n = 1428) presented with combinations of lifestyle risk factors. Intention-to-treat analysis showed improvements (P < 0.001) in lifestyle profiles. Interviews confirmed recruitment of men who were hard-to-engage and unhealthy. Men were attracted through football and/or the clubs, whereas specific design factors impacted on participation. Limitations include use of self-reports, narrow demographics, small effect sizes, lack of follow-up and the absence of non-completers in interviews.

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