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Warning: This briefing discusses issues around suicide which some readers may find distressing.


Key Points

In the UK, several physical and mental health conditions disproportionately impact men. Men are more likely to experience poor health outcomes for a variety of conditions such as some cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and are more likely to die by suicide, when compared with women.

On average in the UK, women live almost 4 years longer than men. Although this gap has narrowed historically, it recently widened because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of health and wider inequalities between different groups of men, there are also significant disparities in life expectancy between some groups of men.

The underlying causes of poor men’s health outcomes broadly relate to many interconnected factors such as:

  • socio-economic factors
  • protected characteristics
  • behavioural factors
  • health-seeking behaviours
  • psychological factors.

There are several risk factors that are more common among men than women in the UK. Evidence suggests that there are certain health inequalities between distinct groups of men, as well as other populations, including transgender and non-binary communities.

Sex and gender specific health policy in the UK is a current topic of discussion. Public health policies in England are predominantly condition- and outcome-focused. However, there are some specific health interventions targeted at men at a national, regional and community level. The Men’s Health Forum (a charity with the aim of improving the health of men and boys in the UK) has been leading a campaign for a national strategy on men’s health with support from several UK charities and the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on issues affecting men and boys. The APPG subsequently published a report on “The Case for a Men’s Health Strategy” in Feb 2022. In July 2023, the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee launched an inquiry on men’s physical and mental health outcomes. Outside the UK, there have been several national men’s health strategies including in Ireland (first published 2008) and Australia (published in 2010 and updated in 2019).

In November 2023, the UK Government announced that a Men’s Health Ambassador would be appointed along with the establishment of a men’s health task and finish group, focusing on increasing awareness of certain conditions and health needs faced by men and improving men’s engagement with health services.


POSTbriefs are based on literature reviews and interviews with a range of stakeholders and are externally peer reviewed. POST would like to thank interviewees and peer reviewers for kindly giving up their time during the preparation of this briefing, including:

  • Members of the POST Board*
  • Professor Louis Appleby, University of Manchester
  • Peter Baker, Global Action on Men’s Health*
  • Mark Brooks, Men and Boys’ Health, Inclusion and Domestic Abuse, The ManKind Initiative*
  • Cancer Research UK*
  • Dr Charlotte Campbell, CLOSER
  • Professor Carmen Clayton, Leeds Trinity University
  • Dr John Day, University of Essex*
  • Department of Health and Social Care / Office for Health Improvement and Disparities*
  • Professor Peter Goldblatt, UCL
  • Emma Goldsmith, Rugby League Cares*
  • Professor Brendan Gough, Leeds Beckett University
  • Dr Robin Hadley, Manchester Metropolitan University*
  • Professor Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Dr Ruth Lowry, University of Essex*
  • Professor Elizabeth Marsh, University of Derby*
  • Glen Poole, Australia Men’s Health Forum*
  • Prostate Cancer UK*
  • Dr Noel Richardson, Institute of Technology Carlow Ireland
  • Professor Gillian P Rowlands, Newcastle University*
  • Robert Shelswell, University of Plymouth*
  • Martin Tod, The Men’s Health Forum
  • Oliver Vikse, Andy’s Man Club
  • Dr David Walsh, Glasgow Centre for Population Health, University of Glasgow*
  • Professor Alan White, Leeds Beckett University*

 *Denotes people and organisations who acted as external reviewers of the briefing. 

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