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released: 14 Apr 2010 author: AIHW media release

Men in rural regions of Australia may face distinct health issues because of their location, work and lifestyle. This report provides a snapshot of some of these issues and compares the illness and mortality of men in rural and urban areas.Overall, men in rural areas are more likely than their urban counterparts to experience chronic health conditions and risk factors. For example, they: are more likely to report daily smoking and risky drinking behaviour; are less likely to possess an adequate level of health literacy; have higher mortality rates from injury, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This report is a useful resource for policymakers, researchers and others interested in emerging men's health policies in Australia.

ISSN 1448-9775; ISBN 978 1 74024 995 9; Cat. no. PHE 120; 64pp.; $44.00

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In late 2008, the Australian Government announced its intention to develop Australia’s first National Men’s Health Policy, which will have a focus on a number of groups including men in rural areas. Drawing on several data sources, this report provides a snapshot of the health of men in rural Australia compared with urban areas.

Why rural men?

There is a strong relationship between poor health and social and economic disadvantage. Compared with urban areas, rural regions of Australia contain a larger proportion of people living in areas of socioeconomic disadvantage. This fact, combined with the generally poorer health status of men compared with women, justifies the specific consideration of rural men in this report.

Room for improvement in the health of rural men

This report confirms previous findings that rural men are more likely than their urban counterparts to experience chronic conditions and health risk factors.

In 2004–06, male death rates increased with remoteness. Compared with Major cities, death rates ranged from 8% higher in Inner regional areas to up to 80% higher in Very remote areas.

Several areas of health continue to be of particular concern for rural men. Four of these are highlighted below.

Cardiovascular disease and diabetes

Death rates from these diseases increased with remoteness. Cardiovascular diseases were responsible for nearly a third of the elevated male death rates outside Major cities.

Male death rates from diabetes were 1.3 times as high in Inner regional areas and 3.7 times as high in Very remote areas as compared with Major cities.

Alcohol and other drugs

Men living outside Major cities were more likely to report 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 mental disorder throughout their lifetime. The incidence of head and neck cancers and lip cancers, two groups of cancers associated with increased smoking and alcohol consumption, was also higher outside Major cities.


Male death rates due to injury and poisoning increased with remoteness; rates in Very remote areas were 3.1 times as high as Major cities. Similarly, men living outside Major cities were 18% more likely to report a recent injury.

Health literacy

In 2006, men living in Inner regional and Outer regional/Remote areas were 22% less likely than men in Major cities to possess an adequate level of health literacy.

Recommended citation

AIHW 2010. A snapshot of men's health in regional and remote Australia. Rural health series no. 11. Cat. no. PHE 120. Canberra: AIHW.

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