Why are men resistant to health check-ups and visiting their doctor regularly? Do men value prevention over cure?
A 2022 Cleveland Clinic survey of 1,000 men in America found that 53% of them did not seek to get regular health check-ups and screenings. Men of colour were even less likely to see a doctor regularly – at 63%. The survey also found that ‘compared to women, men are much worse at preventative care.’ Men wait until ‘something is wrong’ – i.e. when symptoms appear – before they go to the doctor.
A 2022 Orlando Health poll showed that 33% of men surveyed thought that they did not need regular health check-ups, and 65% of men surveyed believed that they could skip seeing a doctor because they were ‘naturally healthier than most people.’
Why are men so resistant to health check-ups? The New York Times International (10 March 2023) reports that, according to the director of Men’s Health at New-York-Presbyterian, Columbia, men fear bad news.
However, as men age, avoidance in getting health check-ups leads to more serious consequences. During routine health check-ups, doctors look for signs of heart conditions, high blood pressure, cancers, skin conditions, and diabetes – to name a few – and missing these early signs can lead to multiple conditions that are more difficult to treat, or worse – ‘the point of no return.’
How can men overcome resistance, avoidance, and procrastination when it comes to making regular and routine visits to the doctor?
The NYT has four suggestions:
- Find a doctor you trust and have rapport with, even if it means shifting away from your traditional family doctor. Loyalty to a doctor you are not comfortable with could be more harmful than helpful to your physical and emotional health.
- Try a telehealth/virtual appointment. Since the pandemic, more doctors are becoming more familiar with communication technologies and more likely to offer virtual appointments than previously. It’s easier to ‘shop around’ and a good start in finding a doctor that resonates with your personality and needs.
- Bring a loved one or friend to the appointment for support and to mitigate the impulse to cancel.
- Know that going to the doctor gets easier. Routine and regularity breeds common understanding and continuity, making it easier for doctors to ‘know your body and its changes’ and easier for you to know your doctor’s procedures.
As a representative at the Mayo Clinic says, ‘The more you do the thing you fear, the less you fear it.’