Men in the Northern Suburbs of Launceston, Tasmania, experience substantially poorer health outcomes and socio-economic disadvantage than most Australians. They are often described as ‘hard-to-reach’, meaning difficult to engage in research, health promotion, policy and planning. This paper summarises the OPHELIA process to combine health literacy profiling with engagement of local men in health promotion, and their experience of the process and outcomes.
Interviews were conducted to explore the experiences of middle-aged men with the OPHELIA process and subsequent interventions.
Local data and health literacy profiling revealed experiences of isolation, lack of trust in the system, medication non-adherence, mental illness and chronic pain, which formed the basis for generation of ideas to improve their well-being and understanding of health. Tailored interventions were implemented, including suicide prevention, ‘Numeracy for Life’ and ‘Healthy Sheds’ courses. Interviews with six participants revealed that the process contributed to a sense of worth, social support and ability to break ‘old habits’.
Prioritising the lived experience of ‘hard-to-reach’ men through the OPHELIA process resulted in co-design of interventions that were valued by participants. SO WHAT?: Health literacy profiling and genuine community engagement can empower vulnerable, under-represented communities to co-design, and engage in, health promotion.
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