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Men’s Primary Care Utilization

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As a leading men’s health clinic, we take the topic of male healthcare utilization seriously. After all, it’s no secret that getting men to visit their clinicians for preventative care or to diagnose an ailment has been a tremendous struggle for the medical industry. 

We also see this frequently with low testosterone (Low T) symptoms among men. For example, a man may experience low energy, a significant decrease in sex drive, rapid weight gain, trouble sleeping, or difficulty focusing at work. Yet, he refuses to visit a Low T center near him for answers and treatment.

This behavior, of course, contrasts with women’s healthcare utilization. In fact, a Canadian study revealed how more women admit to seeking medical attention for their mental and physical health than men. Years later, a survey conducted by the Cleveland Clinic demonstrated how this trend is not limited to country borders, as two-thirds of American male participants admitted to avoiding trips to their clinician, preferring to “wait it out” for as long as possible.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon is nothing new. In 2001, for example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that, on average, 33% of women were more likely to visit their doctors than men. So the facts remain that most men prefer to avoid seeking medical guidance, and this number has yet to improve.

The reason?

Many factors contribute to why men are less likely to visit the doctor than women. Still, the main contributor is often cultural stigmas that create communication barriers that encourage men to avoid asking for help. Despite the healthcare utilization discrepancies among men and women, however, steps are being taken to bridge this gap and open lines of communication with male patients.

In this article, we’ll examine the current circumstances that affect men’s primary care utilization and how we, and other men’s health professionals, are addressing them.

Low Health Literacy

Several studies have been conducted on health literacy differences among genders. For example, findings reveal how men from migration backgrounds demonstrate lower health literacy rates than women. At the same time, an Australian study shows how a strong correlation may exist between men’s health literacy and occupation (i.e., the more male-dominated the workplace, the lower the literary score). 

Whatever the reason, a decrease in health literacy significantly affects how men obtain and comprehend medical information (e.g., insurance coverage, a diagnosis, a prescribed treatment plan, etc.) to make informed decisions about their health and wellness.

It’s also important to add that most men admit to not wanting to answer personal questions about their health or undergo physical exams. 

As a result, men may underestimate their risk of serious diseases, focus more on symptoms than prevention, or remain unaware of available treatments and services. 

Stigma Against Mental Health Care

Historically speaking, men are often socialized to avoid displaying vulnerability. Consequently, some men may not believe in seeking help for mental health concerns due to certain stigmas they learned as children. 

It’s also worth noting that men admit to not wanting to hear “bad news” from their clinician or fear hearing ridicule for certain bad habits (i.e., weight, diet, lifestyle, etc.). Therefore, they prefer to avoid the situation entirely.

These psychological and structural roadblocks can prevent many men from caring for their physical and mental health needs.

Read more about men’s health stigmas.

Traditional Gender Roles in Households and Culture

Related to the points listed above, traditional gender roles in households and culture can also explain why men are less likely to visit the doctor. Many times, men can develop an attitude of stoicism and self-reliance that discourages them from seeking out help or admitting they need medical care. 

Additionally, there is societal pressure for men to be strong and take pride in shouldering their responsibilities without relying on anyone else, which could lead them to avoid getting help for an ailment, hoping it will eventually go away.

Lack of Time and Affordability to Seek Out Medical Care

Many men work long hours and multiple jobs, leaving little to no room for activities they deem “non essential,” such as visiting a physician or other healthcare provider. Some may even believe it to be a waste of time, due to past experiences of waiting around in a doctors office and receiving little to no personalized care.

Additionally, financial barriers may also prevent them from accessing treatment, such as a lack of insurance or limited access to resources. Even when insurance coverage is available, most men may need help to afford copays or medicine related to their visits, leading them to forgo such appointments instead of working extra hours to make ends meet.

Increased Risk for Chronic Illness and Riskier Behaviors

Men are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors that can lead to chronic illnesses, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, than women. 

Men are also at a higher risk of developing diseases earlier in life, such as cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in men, Low T, or prostate cancer. As a result, they could delay seeing the doctor until they experience a severe health complication or a medical emergency, making it even more critical for them to get regular medical checkups before the onset of serious illnesses.

Learn more about important men’s health screenings by age.

Social, Economic, and Behavioral Barriers to Utilization Among Men 

Many social, economic, and behavioral factors contribute to the underutilization of primary care among men. These barriers commonly include, among others:

  • Limited access to health care due to financial constraints

  • Language or cultural barriers

  • Geographic distance from medical centers
    Fear of seeking medical attention

  • Reluctance to disclose emotional difficulties within a domestic environment, An emphasis on traditional masculine gender roles

Therefore, as medical professionals, we must identify and address these disparities in preventive healthcare practices to improve overall screening rates among men.

Increasing Men’s Primary Care Visits 

Developing and implementing tailored strategies can help increase men’s utilization of primary care services. Such strategies must consider the various barriers to healthcare access and the overall attitudes around seeking medical assistance among men. 

These strategies should also be culturally relevant and incorporate evidence-based approaches to health promotion and disease prevention, such as outreach campaigns, community-based initiatives, or public service announcements focusing on the importance of preventive care for men.

At EveresT Men’s Health, we believe education is a critical component, and perhaps, the missing link between health utilization among genders. 

There, we aim to educate and empower men to take the next step in their health journey with a complete, comprehensive medical exam that evaluates all areas important to a man’s health. 

This includes monitoring the following:

We understand that each man is different, which is why we design our programs to address your individual needs, helping you reach your goals—while equipping you with the resources, nutritional support, and coaching you need to take a proactive role in your journey. 

Men’s Health Starts Here

To learn more about our comprehensive services and experienced team, we invite you to schedule an appointment today at one of our three clinic locations. 

We’re here to help you reach new heights and start feeling confident about your men’s health journey.

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