What’s standing in the way of improving men’s health? Men, according to studies.

“One of the biggest obstacles to improving the health of men is men themselves. They don’t make their health a priority,” states AAFP President Rick Kellerman, MD, in an AAFP news release and reported on WebMD.

The WebMD article by Miranda Hitti examines a Harris Interactive survey conducted for the AAFP on 1,100 men. The findings?


The survey included a list of possible reasons [reluctance to visit the doctor]; the men could select more than one reason. Here are their responses:

  • I only go to the doctor if I am extremely sick: 36%
  • I am healthy, I have no reason to go to a doctor: 23%
  • I prefer to treat myself naturally: 12%
  • I don’t have time to go to the doctor: 12%
  • I don’t have health insurance: 11%
  • I don’t like doctors: 8%
  • I am afraid of finding out that something is wrong with me: 7%


We highlight this topic in our September feature “Get Thee to a Doctor.” In an effort to raise awareness among middle-aged men about the importance of preventive medical testing, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) joined with the Ad Council to launch a series of public service advertisements in conjunction with Men’s Health Week (June 13-19) and Father’s Day (June 20) this summer. The sardonic ads were an extension of a Men’s Preventive Health campaign, first launched in 2008, and they were designed to encourage men over 40 to learn which preventive screening tests they need to get and when they need to get them.

So is there a solution? Possibly.


Physicians can influence – at least to some extent – their male patients’ behavior, according to those with whom Repertoire spoke. But, as the data indicates, some of the issues are larger than they are.

“If men come to the doctor for a self-limited medical condition, such as an upper respiratory infection, then preventative measures should be discussed and incorporated into the visit where possible, and the importance stressed and arrangements made for a follow-up,” says Ralston. “For those who don’t go to the doctor, practice newsletters and public health activities in the community can increase awareness of the need for preventative services. Some employers are beginning to give incentives for wellness, which can reward those getting a preventative exam.”

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