Men in Australia Telephone Survey (MATeS): predictors of men’s help-seeking behaviour for reproductive health disorders

Carol A Holden, Damien J Jolley, Robert I McLachlan, Marian Pitts, Robert Cumming, Gary Wittert, David J Handelsman and David M de Kretser
Med J Aust 2006; 185 (8): 418-422.


Objective: To identify sociodemographic factors associated with help-seeking behaviour for reproductive health disorders in middle-aged and older Australian men.

Design: A cross-sectional, population-based, computer-assisted telephone interview exploring sociodemographic factors and general and reproductive health.

Participants and setting: Analysis of data from the Men in Australia Telephone Survey (MATeS) of 5990 Australian men aged 40 years and older interviewed between September and December 2003.

Main outcome measures: Self-reported diagnosis of prostate disease and erectile dysfunction (ED), help-seeking behaviour (including visiting a doctor, prostate-specific antigen testing, treatment of prostate disease, speaking to a health professional about ED and treatment of ED).

Results: Age was a significant predictor of all help-seeking behaviour studied, other than treatment for ED. Controlling for all predictor variables, never-married status predicted a lower likelihood of visiting a doctor (odds ratio [OR], 0.68 [95% CI, 0.48–0.97]) or speaking to a health professional about ED (OR, 0.44 [95% CI, 0.21–0.93]), while divorced/separated status predicted lower likelihood of having a prostate-specific antigen test (OR, 0.63 [95% CI, 0.50–0.79]). Living in a regional or remote area or being from a non-English-speaking background predicted lower likelihood of receiving treatment for ED (ORs, 0.62 [95% CI, 0.42–0.92] and 0.41 [95% CI, 0.24–0.72], respectively), but did not influence screening for prostate disease.

Conclusion: Seeking advice or treatment for male reproductive health disorders is predicted by sociodemographic factors specific to different reproductive health problems. As middle-aged and older men do attend doctors, opportunities exist for health professionals to optimise their consultations by routinely discussing reproductive health with all men, to identify under-reported male reproductive health disorders.

  • Carol A Holden1
  • Damien J Jolley2
  • Robert I McLachlan3
  • Marian Pitts4
  • Robert Cumming5
  • Gary Wittert6
  • David J Handelsman7
  • David M de Kretser1

  • 1 Andrology Australia, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Monash Institute of Health Services Research, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Prince Henry's Institute, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 4 Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 5 Centre for Education and Research on Ageing and School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.
  • 6 Department of Medicine, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA.
  • 7 Concord Hospital and ANZAC Research Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.


The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing provided financial support for Andrology Australia but had no role in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of data, or writing or publication of this article. We thank the Hunter Valley Research Foundation, NSW, for assistance in survey administration and data collection; Dr Megan Cock for constructive criticism of the manuscript; and Professor Graeme Hugo and Mr Errol Bamford (National Centre for Social Applications of Geographic Information Systems [GISCA], University of Adelaide, SA) for providing the Accessibility and Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) database.

Competing interests:

None identified.

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