Objective: The Caribbean including Jamaica is undergoing rapid population ageing with implications for health service planning and delivery. Such planning should take into account gender differentials. This study describes and analyses the health status and health-seeking behaviour of men 55 years and over in Jamaica.
Method: A quantitative cross-sectional survey employing cluster sampling techniques was utilized to recruit 2000 men, 55 years and older, in the parish of St Catherine, Jamaica. A 126-item questionnaire was administered and standard instruments utilized to assess functional status.
Results: Respondents (74%) rated their health status as excellent/good. Few men were highly dependent with regard to Activities of Daily Living with incontinence being a major concern. Medication management and shopping were the major Instrumental Activities of Daily Living domains where assistance was needed. Depression was associated with non-involvement in community/social organizations and not being in physical contact with their children.
Major health conditions reported were cancers (16%), kidney/bladder conditions (12.7%), hypertension (9.2%) diabetes (6.5%) and prostate problems (7.3%). Most men (67.6%) had not visited a health provider in the year prior to the survey; 17.1% had been hospitalized after age 55. Only 35% of men ever had a prostate check/exam and 8.2% of men eligible for drug benefits under the Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme registered for that programme.
Conclusion: There is need to focus on older men’s health and ensure that primary prevention and early interventions reach middle-aged and older men while improving health literacy. Taking programmes to ‘where men are’, is suggested – the bars, race track and sports events. Gender and age-specific research should reduce gender disparities in health among older persons in Jamaica.