Barriers and enablers to engaging rural men in chronic disease prevention and management programs


Canadian men, especially those living in rural/remote regions, are at risk for a number of lifestyle-related chronic diseases (CD) including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and some forms of cancer. CDs share many risk factors including overweight, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, and smoking. Poor health outcomes suggest that Canadian men continue to fall short in adopting healthy lifestyles that could prevent CD. There are also alarming discrepancies in CD burden by geography, whereby rural residence increases the risk of developing CD and results in poorer health outcomes. The community-based HealtheStepsTM program offers lifestyle prescriptions (exercise, healthy eating), coaching, and technology supports to help Canadians become more physically active, eat better, and improve their health. The HealtheStepsTM program has been implemented in a variety of community settings, and more than 90% of the participants have been women. In addition, our community partners have reported challenges with regard to engaging men in group and individual health programs. The proposed presentation will cover two related studies conducted by the HealtheStepsTM research team that explored factors influencing the participation of rural men in CD prevention and management (CDPM) programs. In the first study, 149 men living in SW Ontario completed a survey that measured health behaviours and perceptions of CDPM programs. The second study was a scoping review of academic and grey literature related to factors influencing the engagement of rural men in CDPM programs. Prominent themes that were uncovered in both studies include negative perceptions of group-based programs and the importance of considering psychosocial (e.g., the desire to appear masculine) and program-specific factors (e.g., program characteristics) when designing male-specific CDPM programs. Conflicting results between our survey findings and the literature review will also be discussed.

Acknowledgments: The authors would like to acknowledge the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for funding this project, titled HealtheSteps: Strategies to Engage Rural Canadian Men in Chronic Disease Prevention and Management Programs (#129593)