This research builds on the Age-Friendly Cities (AFC) project, and will focus on rural communities in England and the challenges and opportunities they present for ageing populations.
January 2018 - December 2018
Men in sheds: improving the health and wellbeing of older men through gender-based activity interventions: a systematic review and scoping for an evaluation
Research Team: Professor Christine Milligan, Prof Chris Dowrick, Dr Barbara Hanratty, David Richardson, Dr David Neary, Dr Pam Irwin & Dr Zoe Cockshott
Who's involved: LiLaC & Fuse
June 2012 - March 2013
One in five of the UK population is an older man (aged over 65 years), and although men report better health than women, their mortality rates are higher. Loneliness and social isolation are also common in this age group, and are known to be associated with poorer health outcomes.
Older men find it harder than women to make friends late in life, and are less likely to join community based social groups that tend to be dominated by women. They also use fewer community health services than women, and are less likely to participate in preventive health activities. This combination of greater needs and lower rates of engagement with services has prompted the third sector to develop a range of interventions specifically targeted at older men.
Men in Sheds is one of the fastest growing of these innovations. Sheds provide a space for older men to meet, socialise, learn new skills and take part in activities with other men. They may also engage men in informal adult learning activity, provide health related information or signposting to relevant services. Sheds can be supported by third and private sector funding but can also be voluntary run and self-sustaining, whichever the case, all are tailored to their local context and so are not standardised.
A Shed is a complex intervention, with broad aims to improve physical, emotional, social and spiritual health and well-being that go beyond alleviating loneliness or social isolation. To date, there is little robust evidence that demonstrates how, and to what extent, Sheds are effective at improving health and wellbeing. This research produced a systematic review of the evidence for the effectiveness of gendered social activities, and Sheds in particular, at influencing health and wellbeing amongst older men.
The included studies provided some evidence that involvement in Men’s Sheds or other gendered interventions has a significant effect on the physical health of older men. There was some evidence of a positive effect on the mental health of older men and some evidence of the beneficial effects of interventions on older men’s wellbeing. There were limitations to the available evidence and a lack of robustness.
Overall, Men’s Sheds and other gendered interventions may play a vital and valued part in the lives of some older men.
Milligan C, Neary D, Payne S, Hanratty B, Irwin P, Dowrick C. Older men and social activity: a scoping review of Men’s Sheds and other gendered interventions. Ageing and Society. 2016 36:5.
Milligan, C. Men in Sheds: gendered activity interventions for older men, commissioned chapter in Age UK Publication ‘Supporting Later Life: what works in services for older people’, Age UK London 2014 pp.64-68.
Milligan C, Dowrick C, Payne S, Hanratty B, Irwin P, Neary D, Richardson D. Men’s Sheds and other gendered interventions for older men: improving health and wellbeing through social activity. A systematic review and scoping of the evidence base. Age UK Research briefing. Apr 2013.
SPHR Public Health Evidence Briefing: Men in sheds – improving the health and wellbeing of older men through gender-based activity interventions