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Educational interventions are effective in improving knowledge about cancer risk reduction among men

Reidy M, Saab MM, Hegarty J, et al.  Promoting men's knowledge of cancer risk reduction: A systematic review of interventions Patient Education and Counseling. 2018; 101(8): 1322-1336.

Review question

      Are educational interventions effective in improving men’s knowledge about reducing their risk of cancer?


      It is estimated that cancer accounts for 33% of deaths among men compared to approximately 20% of women.

      More than one-third of the cancer burden could be reduced by modifying some risk factors associated with lifestyle such as smoking, unhealthy diet, inadequate physical activity, alcohol consumption and exposure to infections.

      Previous studies have shown that men are less likely than women to act on health information. Therefore, there is a need to examine the effectiveness of educational interventions specifically designed to improve men’s knowledge about cancer risk reduction.

How the review was done

      A detailed search of a number of electronic databases was conducted to identify studies published up to and including 2016. Studies that focused on increasing knowledge regarding cancer risk reduction amongst men were included in the systematic review.

      A total of 3,374 studies were identified in searches, and 25 were included in the review after assessing for eligibility.

      The review was funded by the Irish Cancer Society.

What the researchers found

      Findings revealed that educational interventions aiming to improve men’s knowledge about cancer risk reduction required multiple strategies that are culturally appropriate (for example, using prominent public figures, interventions in barbershops, and entertainment-based tools using interactive multimedia to present educational messages within the context of an entertaining story).

      Information format was perceived as important, particularly in a context where many men have limited health literacy (the capacity to obtain, process, and understand health information to help them make appropriate decisions). Therefore, attention must be paid to structuring the information appropriately and being engaging, as well as using large font sizes, bullet points, summaries and visual aids.

      Men responded best to information when a physician was taking part in the health-promotion interventions and was presenting trustworthy information that was easily available.


      Researchers found that educational interventions can be effective in improving men’s knowledge about cancer risk reduction, particularly when different approaches are used to present the information, and when the information is provided by a trustworthy individual such as a physician.

      Further research is needed to determine how men from different backgrounds prefer to learn, and how they engage with information.


Risk factors
Aspects making a condition more likely.
Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

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