Older men's perceptions of the need for and access to male-focused community programmes such as Men's Sheds

Ageing Soc. 2018 Apr;38(4):794-816. doi: 10.1017/S0144686X16001331. Epub 2016 Dec 21.

Abstract

Although participating in community social programming is associated with positive physical and mental health outcomes for older adults, older men participate less often than women. Men's Sheds is a community programme used primarily by older men that originated in Australia and is well established there. The goal of the current study was to explore men's perceptions of the need for Men's Sheds and issues concerning access to them in Canada, a country with a small but growing Men's Sheds movement. We conducted focus groups with 64 men aged 55 years and older, including Men's Sheds members and men from the community who were unfamiliar with this programme, and analysed the data using the framework analytic approach. The data revealed two primary themes concerning: (a) the need for male-focused community programmes, including the sub-themes reducing isolation, forming friendships and engaging in continued learning; and (b) access to programmes, including the sub-themes points of contact, sustaining attendance and barriers. Findings suggest that in order to reduce the likelihood of isolation and increase opportunities for social engagement, exposure to the concept of male-focused programming should begin before retirement age. In addition, such programmes should be mindful of how they are branded and marketed in order to create spaces that are welcoming to new and diverse members.

Keywords: ageing; community health; masculinity; men; mental health.