Hundreds of publications from around the globe are focused on sharing information specifically intended for bringing awareness to common men’s health issues. Heck, there’s even an entire month dedicated to promoting well-being among men each and every year. Despite the increasing efforts to encourage a dialogue around men’s health, a harmful stigma rings true in many a manly brain – I’m too tough for the doctor.
An overarching trend among adult men is the uneasiness that presents itself when talk of visiting the doctor’s office begins. Whether it is a subtle hint from a partner or spouse, or a natural inclination that something may be worth getting checked out, scheduling an appointment with a medical professional just isn’t on the docket. Recent research helps us understand why.
Reasons Behind Avoidance
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reported that men are 24% less likely than their female counterparts to have had a visit with a primary care doctor in the last 12 months. This doesn’t mean men are healthier – it means they feel as though they should be. In reality, men are 32% more likely than women to be hospitalized for serious health conditions, like complications with diabetes or congestive heart failure. So why the disparity?
One recent study published in the Journal of Health Psychology indicates that cultural norms play a role in why men avoid the doctor’s office at all costs. Society still places a heavy importance on strength and self-reliance among adult men, with the majority believing that these traits equal ongoing status and respect from others. Even as the traditional conversation about masculinity begins to shift, the study revealed that the more masculine you are or feel you should be, the less you want outside input – like that of a trained, medical professional – as a necessary part of your otherwise healthy lifestyle.
Men avoid having regular doctor’s visits because they don’t want to be perceived as weak, but at times, medical attention is a necessity. When a health concern arises that forces men into the doctor’s office, the thought of being perceived as weak still weaves its way into the discussion. Individuals who hold strongly to their beliefs of masculinity and strength are less likely to share important details of their condition with their provider, especially when that provider is another male. Being less than forthcoming about aches, pains, or other mild to severe health changes can lead to an even bigger mess for male patients.
Complications of Healthcare Avoidance
Men face unnecessary risks when there is hesitation in seeking out the help or advice of a doctor, and even greater challenges when miscommunication takes place. A representative from a UK-based medical solicitor firm explains that a lack of communication between the patient and his provider is one of the common reasons medical mistakes take place. If your provider is unaware of what’s truly ailing you, there is no feasible way to make sound healthcare recommendations or prescribe the right course of treatment the first go around. Instead, patients end up with misdiagnoses, unnecessary medications, or ongoing symptoms – all of which add up to prolonged health risks and complications.
While male patients don’t always fall into the ruff and rugged stereotype, research shows that a strong adherence to what society deems masculine leads to undue health risks. Vowing to tough it out when it comes to your health is a poor choice and can lead to lasting health issues that may be a challenge to overcome. Instead of avoiding the doctor – whether for your annual check up or an urgenthealth concern – show your true strength by getting the professional advice and medical attention you deserve.