MEN’S HEALTH: Men Do Not Seek Out Routine Checkups
Men are "dangerously out of touch" with the health care system and are far less likely than women to seek routine checkups and preventive care. According to a 1998 Louis Harris & Associates survey of 4,350 U.S. men and women, there is a growing "gender gap" in health care. While women show more involvement in health initiatives -- in part because of their regular obstetrical and gynecological visits -- men avoid regular visits and even delay care for potentially life-threatening conditions, the study found. More than half of the men surveyed reported they had not had a physical exam or a blood cholesterol test in the past year; 60% of men over 50 had not been screened for colon cancer; and 40% had not been tested for prostate cancer. The study also found that 30% of working-age men lacked health insurance at some point in 1998, and those men were far less likely than male counterparts to receive health services.
Physicians to Blame?
One physician suggested that the survey's results might stem from masculine attitudes shaped during adolescence, while another researcher speculated that men may be unwilling to seek care because they generally don't want to leave work and don't care to discuss personal issues. Such observations fall in line with survey findings, which showed 20% of men were "not at all" or "not very" comfortable discussing health issues with a physician. But the study also puts some blame on physicians, who often fail to counsel male patients in the way they consistently advise women on subjects such as smoking, dieting and exercise. Authors note physicians' inattentiveness to men's concerns may be due to the fact that most doctors are men and are uncomfortable discussing such matters themselves. The survey results indicate that greater efforts should be made by health care providers to reach out to men, experts said (Marquis, Los Angeles Times, 3/14).