In Italy gender-based health studies and policies focus on women, since it is widely assumed that the socio-economical inequalities that privilege men also favour men’s health. The present article, which is the first part of two-linked papers, fills a gap in knowledge by examining how Italian men manage their unique health challenges compared to women, all the while navigating a “familistic” welfare system. A critical analysis of secondary data allows for debunking some myths on gender and health in Italy: it shows the lack of gender-specific studies on men’s health that take into account socio-cultural factors, as well as significant male disadvantage in terms of health. The men-women divide concerning health appears to be greater in Italy than in Europe, thus pointing to the important role played by socio-cultural factors, such as familism. Information gaps and topics requiring focus are identified, in order to pave the way for Italian policy-making relative to men’s health.
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