Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Insights from a Developing Country: Self-Reported Health Status of Elderly Men (60 Years and over) in Jamaica

Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Insights from a Developing Country: Self-Reported Health Status of Elderly Men (60 Years and over) in Jamaica

Article excerpt

Older men's health status is of increasing concern given the rates of prostate cancer, genitourinary disorders and risk factors such as smoking in earlier life. There is limited research on the health status of Caribbean men, particularly Jamaicans. This paper documents self-reported health status of older men from a recent pioneer work in Jamaica. Older men (1530) were surveyed in a cross-sectional study. Cluster sampling with probability proportional to population size was utilized. Seventy-four percent reported health status as "good/excellent." There was no statistical association between self-reported health of older men and area of residence or marital status. However, there was a positive correlation between health status and tertiary level education (p < 0.05). Domicile ownership, working status, age, visits to doctor/health centre within the last year and reporting current disease were independent predictors of health status. Cancer was the most frequently reported chronic disease (16.6%), followed by kidney/bladder conditions (12.7%), hypertension (9.2%) and prostate conditions (7.3%). Greater attention to cancer, kidney/bladder issues and prostate conditions is warranted. Programs focused on healthy lifestyles, including behaviour change, and routine screening for chronic diseases are recommended.

Keywords: ageing, older men, health status, Jamaica, developing country

The perception exists that except for issues related to reproduction health problems, there is little difference in the health of men and women and that the solutions are essentially the same (Kalache & Lunenfeld, 2002). As a result of lobby groups of women from all over the world and the 1995 Beijing Conference, research on women's health needs, rapidly mushroomed. Increasing evidence on important differences between men and women from the cellular to the societal level has been generated (Kimura, 1987). Interestingly, according to Kalache and Lunenfeld (2002), the strong emphasis on women's issues has (though almost by default) revealed areas of men's health that require just as much attention.

The issue of older men's ageing and health has been spearheaded on the international stage by the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO has provided leadership in the area of research and policy on the care of older persons. Older men's health status is of increasing concern given the rates of prostate cancer, genitourinary disorders and the presence of risk factors such as smoking in earlier life. Yet, the literature revealed limited research on the health status of men in the Caribbean and in particular in Jamaica.

Currently the majority of older people live in developing countries (WHO, 2000). As the demographic transition gathers momentum in the poorer regions of the world, an even greater proportion of the world's men will live in countries and regions with the least resources to respond to their needs. Approaches to meeting that challenge can be systematically developed if there is greater understanding of older men and women in poor regions (Lunenfeld & Gooren, 2002). Both from a physiological and from a psychosocial perspective, the determinants of health as individual's age are intrinsically related to gender (Kalache & Kickbusch, 1997).

Worldwide, there has been increasing interest in working with men on sexual and reproductive health concerns. Nevertheless collaboration among those who champion men's health has been limited beyond conventional medical problems such as erectile dysfunction or prostate cancer (Baker, 2001). Baker further suggests that the idea that men have specific health needs, experiences, and concerns related to their gender as well as their biological sex is relatively novel. Additionally he notes that even in those countries where emphasis has been placed on men's health issues, programs have largely remained small scale operations. In the Caribbean, information and understanding of health and ageing issues among older men is relatively limited. …

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