The first of its kind, Ten to Men: The Australian Longitudinal Study on Male Health follows participants over time to understand the factors that have an impact upon the health and wellbeing of Australian males at different stages of life.
Why are Australian males more likely than females to experience health problems such as skin and lung cancer, heart, liver and respiratory disease, or stroke? Why are they less likely to visit a health professional? Why do men have shorter life expectancies than females? And why are these gaps even greater in rural and remote communities, particularly in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities?
The Ten to Men study, the first longitudinal study into male health and wellbeing in Australia, was commissioned by the Australian Department of Heath to address these questions. The study was informed by the first National Male Health Policy and designed to understand the key social, economic, environmental and behavioural determinants that affect the health and longevity of Australian males. The name Ten to Men refers to the age range of boys and men in the study – from ten years old to adult men. The study aims to follow the same participants over time, as they transition through the different stages of life, to understand how changing life stages and circumstances affect the health and wellbeing of Australian men and boys, namely:
- physical and emotional health (such as major health conditions, symptoms, positive mental health and depression);
- health service use (covering GP and specialist visits, and service access issues and satisfaction);
- health behaviours, risks and protective factors (such as exercise, diet, sleep, smoking, alcohol and other drugs);
- personal and family situation (such as family composition, relationships and living arrangements); and
- social and environmental factors (including work life, education, social support and neighbourhood characteristics.
Ten to Men was designed by health, research and policy experts from leading research organisations in collaboration with the Department of Health. The first phase was carried out between 2013 and 2014 and gathered health and lifestyle information from almost 16,000 randomly selected males aged between ten and 55 years. Participants included those living in metropolitan, rural and regional Australia. In 2016 and 2017, more than 12,000 boys and males participated in the second phase of Ten to Men. The third stage of the study is currently underway with the main data collection to take place between May and December 2020.
Some insights from the Ten to Men study so far include:
- Men who become fathers for the first time lower their risks of depression and drinking to excess, and, for ex-smokers, a higher likelihood of staying off cigarettes;
- Men living in towns or regional centres are more likely to develop a physical health condition or anxiety compared to their city counterparts; and
- Men who live in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas have an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety.
As the data from the Ten to Men study is being collected to improve male health, and make the health system more responsive to the health needs of men, this information is accessible to eligible individuals working in relevant research, policy and program development areas. This includes recognised research institutions and organisations, government departments and postgraduate students. Ten to Men: The Australian Longitudinal Study on Male Health is committed to working with researchers and the community for better health and well-being outcomes for all Australian males.
The study is managed by the Australian Institute of Family Studies and funded by the Department of Health. More information on the Ten to Men study can be found at tentomen.org.au.