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Men's health, inequalities and policy: Contradictions, masculinities and public health in England

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Bob Williams, S. Robertson, A. Hewison

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-488
Number of pages14
JournalCritical Public Health
Issue number3-4
PublishedNov 2010

King's Authors


The aim of this paper is to consider 'New' Labour's socio-economic and health policies, discuss how they influence preventive health strategies aimed at men, and identify the implications for managers, researchers and practitioners working to improve public health in the primary care sector in England. Policy, theoretical work and empirical research are analysed, critically, to develop the arguments in the paper. Although men may be perceived as a 'hard to reach group', insufficient consideration has been given to how health policy facilitates or restricts successful preventive health work with men. The 'gender duty', which has recently been introduced in England, presents an opportunity to build on earlier successful public health work with men. There is some evidence that innovative public health strategies, informed by an understanding of gender, with men are being developed. This may enable primary care trusts to more successfully, and creatively, target and engage men in health improvement activities. However, the current dominant ideology in public health policy in England is grounded in a perspective that emphasises biomedical, neo-liberal and psychological explanations of health and which neglects the relationship between gender and health inequalities. Recognition of the links between gender, poverty, and the concomitant inequalities, is a priority when planning preventive health work with men. If such inequalities are to be redressed, social and economic policies underpinned by values of equity and social justice are needed, incorporating a more nuanced understanding of the role of gender in health.

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