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Do men know enough about their bones?

Published: 
3 January 2002

Research at the Primary Medical Care group at the University of Southampton is finding out what men know and think about osteoporosis, a disease sometimes thought of as a 'woman's problem'.

Numbers of fractures in men caused by osteoporosis are increasing, but men's attitudes to the disease are still largely unknown. Research Nurse Helen Raphael and Reader in Primary Medical Care Dr Helen Smith aim to fill this gap by interviewing 25 healthy men, and 25 men suffering from osteoporosis, comparing the knowledge and perceptions of the disease held by those in each of the two groups. During the exploratory study, funded by the Royal College of General Practitioners, the researchers will also be finding out if men know about actions they can take to improve the health and strength of their bones. If the study finds that many men are unaware of the issues surrounding osteoporosis, it will be possible to make recommendations for the development of new health promoting literature and patient information leaflets about osteoporosis.

"Before you can encourage people to change their lifestyle, you have to understand their perceptions of the disease and determine what extra information might be needed," Ms Raphael explained. "If men think osteoporosis is only a women's disease, they may not take on board the information that is already available and fail to realise that they should be looking after their bones too."

Notes for editors

  1. One in three women and at least one in 12 men will develop osteoporosis during their lifetime. Every three minutes someone has a fracture as a result of osteoporosis, and at any time the equivalent of nine NHS hospitals are full of people needing care due to those fractures.
  2. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrates its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £215 million.

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