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Rural life bad for men's health

15 April, 2010

Men living in rural Australia are more likely to experience chronic health conditions than their urban counterparts, according to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, A snapshot of men's health in regional and remote Australia, shows that male death rates increased with remoteness. Cardiovascular diseases were responsible for nearly a third of the elevated male death rates outside major cities.

Compared with major cities, death rates from diabetes were 1.3 as high for men in inner regional areas and 3.7 as high in very remote areas.

"There is a strong relationship between poor health and social and economic disadvantage," said Sally Bullock, from the AIHW's Population Health Unit.

"Compared with urban areas, rural regions of Australia contain a larger proportion of people from lower socioeconomic groups. This fact, combined with the generally poorer health status of men compared with women, highlights a potential double disadvantage for men living in rural areas."

The report also shows that men living outside major cities were more likely to have health risk factors such as daily smoking and risky or high risk alcohol use, than their counterparts in major cities.

They were also more likely to have experienced a substance use related mental disorder throughout their lifetime.
Male death rates due to injury and poisoning also increased with remoteness.

"The rates of injury and poisoning for men living in very remote areas were over three times as high as for men living in major cities," Ms Bullock said. "Similarly, men living outside major cities were almost 20% more likely to report a recent injury than their urban counterparts.

"The poor level of health literacy among men in rural areas is also a concern."

The report shows that in 2006, men living in inner regional, outer regional and remote areas were 22% less likely than men in major cities to possess an adequate level of health literacy.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

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