Health status, symptoms and health counselling among middle-aged men: comparison of men at low and high risk

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Abstract

Aim

To assess the levels of health indicators, health behaviour and health counselling among men at low and high risk for adverse health outcomes.

Methods

A total of 273 middle-aged men, 145 at low and 128 at high risk for adverse health outcomes, were studied. Two-and three-way tables with chi-squared tests were performed to identify differences between the groups. A step-wise logistic regression model was used to analyse symptoms and complaints associated with the likelihood of perceived health.

Results

One-half of the low-risk men were overweight, of whom 8% were obese. Forty per cent of the low-risk men smoked cigarettes and one-fifth used alcohol excessively. Headache, chest and back pain, stress, and insomnia occurred frequently (range: 20–38%) and were highly correlated with depression. Joint pain (p = 0.012) in the low-risk men and sciatica (p = 0.047) in the high-risk men were the only statistically significant differences related to normal weight vs. overweight status. There was a greater than sixfold odds of average/poor health among low-risk men who were depressed than in those who were not depressed men. Only a small percentage of the low-risk men had received counselling from professionals for different health issues, including weight control and smoking cessation; the corresponding percentages were somewhat higher when given by family members.

Conclusions

A real need for better counselling was found among middle-aged men identified with obesity and risky behaviours. Public health nurses and other health workers should be aware of the differences between men at low and high risk. Men had different health experiences and lifestyles in these groups. More research is needed to determine the most efficient counselling strategies among men.

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