A 2019 study from leading medical and research center Cleveland Clinic found that 72% of men would rather do housework (such as cleaning the bathroom) than go to the doctor.
Additionally, only half (50%) of men surveyed said that they consider getting their annual check-up a regular part of taking care of themselves.
So what makes men so hesitant to walk into a doctor’s office? According to the same Cleveland Clinic survey, the top reasons include:
- They were embarrassed (46%).
- They didn’t want to hear that they needed to change their diet/lifestyle (36%).
- They knew something was wrong but weren’t ready to face the diagnosis and/or would rather not know if they have any health issues (37%).
- They were told as children that men don’t complain about health issues (41%).
“More often than not, men don’t like seeing a doctor because they have a ‘macho ego complex’ and do not want to be perceived as sick or weak.”Dr. Rainier Lutanco, a general, head and neck, cancer, and minimally invasive surgeon
“More often than not, men don’t like seeing a doctor because they have a ‘macho ego complex’ and do not want to be perceived as sick or weak,” says Dr. Rainier Lutanco, a general, head and neck, cancer, and minimally invasive surgeon based in Manila. “On the other hand, others view health care as a waste of time and money.”
If a man is unwilling to go to the doctor, it puts him at risk for missing preventive screenings — check-ups, immunizations, teletherapy, and other tests — which can help prevent physical or mental problems or detect them before they become major. This is especially important now as the Cleveland Clinic survey also showed that 77% percent of men reported an increase in stress levels as a result of COVID-19, 59% have felt isolated during the pandemic, and nearly half (45%) say their emotional/mental health has worsened during the pandemic.
How to motivate men to get medical attention
If you know someone that needs some convincing to put his health first, here are six approaches you can try:
- Don’t nag. Nagging is defined as the interaction in which one person repeatedly makes a request, and the other person repeatedly ignores it, and both become increasingly annoyed. Constant nagging can make the other party feel resentful, personally attacked, and inadequate.
- Don’t guilt-trip. Guilt-tripping is making someone feel guilty in order to induce them to do something. An example would be telling your husband or father “Who will take care of us if you get sick?” But this statement will only further shame the man and perpetuate the culture of toxic masculinity that says men should be the ones taking care of the family.
- Instead, come from a place of caring. Instead of positioning the doctor’s visit as another thing that he is expected to do, tell him that you want him to get checked because you truly care about his health and you want him to be around for a long time because you love him (and not because of other expectations).
- Gather as many examples as you can. This tactic works best if you know of a friend or relative who caught a serious medical condition early, i.e. someone found a lump that turned out to be cancer but he is now, thankfully, okay. Stories like these might motivate a man to get his health checked as well.
- Use a common-sense approach. Let him know that putting off a doctor’s visit until he is in pain or at an advanced stage of a disease may make treating his condition more difficult or costly.
- Make it easy. This approach works well for someone who always claims he’s too busy. Be the one to set the appointment (make sure it’s at a time that’s convenient for him) and offer to go with him. For teletherapy sessions, assure him that all conversations will be kept secure and confidential and that even you will not be privy to what was discussed.
It is common for men to avoid going to the doctor, but patience, understanding, and talking about it rationally will increase his chances of getting himself the check-up that he needs. MindNation’s psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions if you know someone who needs to talk to a mental health expert. Book a session now through FB Messenger http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected].