A narrative review of Men’s Sheds literature: reducing social isolation and promoting men’s health and well-being

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Men’s Sheds are community-based organisations that typically provide a space for older men to participate in meaningful occupation such as woodwork. Men’s Sheds are considered an exemplar for the promotion of men’s health and well-being by health and social policy-makers. The objective of this literature review was to determine the state of the science about the potential for Men’s Sheds to promote male health and well-being. Between October 2011 and February 2012, we conducted searches of databases, the grey literature and manual searches of websites and reference lists. In total, we found 5 reports and 19 articles about Men’s Sheds. The majority of the literature has emanated from Australian academics and is about older men’s learning in community contexts. There is a limited body of research literature about Men’s Sheds; the literature consists of either descriptive surveys or small qualitative studies. The range of variables that might contribute towards best practice in Men’s Sheds has not yet been adequately conceptualised, measured, tested or understood. Future research should be focussed on the health and well-being benefits of Men’s Sheds; it needs to incorporate social determinants of health and well-being within the study designs to enable comparison against other health promotion research. Without this research focus, there is a danger that the potential health and well-being benefits of Men’s Sheds as supportive and socially inclusive environments for health will not be incorporated into future male health policy and practice.

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