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Research Case studies

Researching Physical Activity and the Health of Hard to Reach Men


What is good about using football to promote men’s health?

Football has a long standing tradition of delivering health-related activities. In PLH, activities are led by staff trained in health enhancement called health trainers. Interventions include awareness raising events on match days for supporters, and weekly activities with groups of local men.

Initial findings from the evaluation show that PLH provides an informal and supportive environment to engage men, including those not meeting health guidelines. Fewer than 20% of men reported taking part in sufficient physical activity to benefit health, while over a quarter smoked and almost half exceeded recommended limits for alcohol consumption. More than two-thirds had at least risk three risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Engagement in the programme provided participants with a means of receiving support with lifestyle issues. In order that findings can be shared on how best to reach men with health interventions, the evaluation has also considered the process of implementation. Interviews with health trainers aimed to identify how best to design interventions in a way that helps recruit men into them. Findings include performing outreach work with local agencies that engage men, tailoring activities to meet the diverse needs of participants and adopting a flexible approach to programme delivery. For instance one element of the programme at Newcastle United involves linking with men from the South Asian community, in particular men employed in the fast food take away industries. Knowing that this group of men have a heightened risk of CVD, health trainers run a local programme of badminton supported with health advice delivered in local community venues. To fit in with the work routines of these men, sessions are run between midnight and 2am.

How are the findings of PLH evaluation being shared?

The Premier League Health Steering Committee has expressed a desire to see outcomes from the research shared with a diverse audience. Research has been shared at three international conferences as well as the UK Faculty of Public Health Annual Conference in July 2011. More information can also be found below:

  • Pringle A, White A, Zwolinsky S, Smith A, Robertson S, McKenna, J. The pre-adoption demographic and health profiles of men participating in a programme of men’s health delivered in English Premier League football clubs. Journal of Public Health 2011. 125(7), 411-16.
  • Zwolinsky S, Pringle A, White, A, Smith A Robertson, McKenna J. The prevalence of multiple risk factors for CVD: A study of a national programme of men’s health promotion in professional soccer clubs in the UK. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise 2011; 43: 5.
  • Carnegie Research Institute and Centre for Men Health’s. Premier League Men’s Health Programme, Year 1 Report for FA Premier League 2011.
  • FA Premier League. Barclays Premier League Season Review 2009-10. London: The FA Premier League.
Who are the Evaluation Team?

Dr Andy Pringle is Principal Lecturer in Physical Activity, Exercise and Health, Jim McKenna is Professor of Active Lifestyles, Andy Smith is a Senior Lecturer and Stephen Zwolinsky is a Lecturer in the Carnegie Faculty, while Alan White and Steven Robertson are Professors of Men’s Health in the Faculty of Health at Leeds Beckett University.
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