Reach out to young men with `Man Up Mondays’

Check your clinic’s patient files for the last year. How many visits were made by males? According to 2010 data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, just over half of U.S. men (57%) see a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant for routine care, compared to nearly three-quarters (74%) of women.1

Drawing in men, especially young men, for routine care becomes even more important when it comes to sexual health. Estimates suggest that even though young people ages 15–24 years represent only 25% of the sexually experienced population, they acquire nearly half of all new sexually transmitted infections (STIs).2

The Mondays Campaign, a New York City-based nonprofit initiative backed by leading public health schools, has rolled out its “Man Up Monday” campaign to reach at-risk young men. Thanks to a collaboration among the campaign, the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, and the Harlem Health Promotion Center, both in New York City, the “Man Up” campaign is directed at making men more aware of such issues as condom use and getting regular check-ups for HIV and STIs. By using provocative images to encourage sexually active men to “man up” and get tested for STIs and prevent disease by restocking condom supplies, the campaign seeks to work with interested programs in getting the word out on the importance of testing and prevention. It received the public health education and health promotion materials award in the print materials category at the annual American Public Health Association meeting in San Francisco in October 2012.

In a pilot test of the program, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia of Virginia Beach saw a 200% increase in testing over the previous year when it combined use of the program with a half-price testing offer for those who called on Monday to schedule an appointment. The organization is continuing to promote the program in 2013, says Erin Zabel, vice president of external affairs at Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia.

How did it work?

Why did Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia decide to implement the pilot project? Zabel says the organization had been looking for creative ways to engage more men to come to Planned Parenthood for testing and other reproductive health services.

“It’s been challenging since Planned Parenthood is considered a women’s health organization primarily, and it’s hard to move men to visit the doctor anyway,” notes Zabel. “We loved the Man Up Mondays campaign idea as a way to brand our STI services for men in an engaging way that would interest young men, who have such high rates of STIs locally.”

How did the organization get the word out to local young men about the project? Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia used its more than 100 community contacts, as well as its Facebook page, Twitter, web site, and radio spots. Posters and advertising, developed through The Monday Campaigns, were adapted for local use. The program has been well-received by staff and patients, says Zabel.

“Women love the campaign, too, as it gives them a way to encourage their partners and male friends to be tested,” she notes.

Participation in the Man Up Monday campaign has been of no significant cost to the organization; however, the agency makes less money on the 50% discounted testing on Mondays, Zabel states.

Monday is a fresh start

According to The Monday Campaigns, people view Monday as a day for a fresh start and a chance to set healthy intentions for the next six days. They’re more likely to start diets, exercise regimes, quit smoking, and schedule doctor’s appointments on Monday than any other day, and they are looking for ways to reinforce positive health behaviors. Other public health campaigns initiated by the campaigns include Meatless Monday, Quit & Stay Quit Monday, and Healthy Monday.

The Monday Campaigns is inviting health organizations to join in creating a Man Up Monday movement, says Morgan Johnson, MPH, program development and research director. Information is available at www.manupmonday.org. Program developers plan to include an interest survey on the web site that interested organizations can fill out as an application for participation, she says. The campaigns then can contact organizations to see what materials and assistance will be needed to get their own campaign underway, says Johnson. Robert Hatcher, MD, MPH, professor of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, is enthusiastic about the concept of “Man Up Mondays.” Hatcher hopes that the provision of a bag of 20 free condoms can be incorporated into the program to increase its popularity as it is expanded across the nation.

The focus of the campaign is to aid public health professionals in promoting health among young men, states Johnson.

“This population tends to ignore health problems until they become acute,” she observes. “Man Up Monday is a great way to remind them to take stock of their health and make changes as needed to maintain a healthful lifestyle.”

References

  1. Soni A. Getting routine care, U.S. adult noninstitutionalized population, 2007. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. Accessed at http://1.usa.gov/XL0Hy0.
  2. Weinstock H, Berman S, Cates W Jr. Sexually transmitted diseases among American youth: incidence and prevalence estimates, 2000. Perspect Sex Reprod Health 2004; 36(1):6-10.