Study results show that a free online resource for men helps them live a healthier life
By Wendy Haaf
A free online resource created in 2014 to encourage men to steer their lifestyles in a healthier direction seems to be doing its job, new research suggests.
According to the results of a study funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, 863 men who regularly accessed the website DontChangeMuch.ca were much more likely to report having changed their health habits for the better than were a comparison group of 2,000 non-users. An initiative of the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (CMHF), a national non-profit, the website provides resources including exercise tips and health advice.
Three-quarters (75%) of the site users reported improving their eating habits and 70% were spending more time exercising or playing sports. More than half (58%) said they were making an effort to sit less and move more; nearly half (46%) had lost weight; and just under half (45%) had cut down on drinking.
“Men are more likely to die from clogged arteries and heart disease and live an average of nine years of their lives in extremely poor health,” said study lead author John Oliffe, a University of British Columbia (UBC) nursing professor who leads the university’s men’s health program. “Free e-health resources can help men access information and resources that they may otherwise be unable to, and the positive changes in their health can ripple out to benefit their families and society.”
“We have long recognized the huge, unnecessary burden of men’s poor health,” says study co-author Dr. Larry Goldenberg, a professor of urologic sciences at UBC and the founding chair of the CMHF. “Waiting until they show up at the doctor’s office in crisis is not the way to go. Making early, positive changes improves their lives and their families’ lives, and reduces the strain on our health-care systems.”
“We believe we have cracked the code to engaging large numbers of men online,” Wayne Hartrick, the founding president of the CMHF, said. “Because many men avoid healthy basics, such as nutrition and activity and seeing the doctor regularly, men’s poor health is costing Canada about $37 billion in lost productivity and health-care costs. Now, for the first time, we have research that shows our humorous, guy-friendly ‘Don’t change much’ blend of a marketing-driven programming based on unbiased, evidence-based research works.”
“Men like humour, they like being able to control what information they get, and they like the anonymity,” Hartrick says. “This is critically important because e-health can be scaled to engage many more men than in traditional health settings.”
The study was conducted by Intensions Consulting and researchers at the University of British Columbia, and the results were published in the online Journal of Medical Internet Research.
Photo: iStock/Goodboy Picture Company.