It’s a well-known fact that guys dislike going to the doctor. But, unlike other stereotypes about refusing to ask for directions or do their clothes, this one has severe health consequences.
Many Men Avoid Going To The Doctor Because Of Mistaken Machismo
Men are less likely than women to have preventative screenings, get prompt medical treatment, or get vaccinated against COVID-19 or the flu. Men also live for a shorter period than women.
Although the causes of the life expectancy disparity are complicated, Wizdom Powell, director of the UConn Health Disparities Institute in Hartford, Connecticut, believes biology explains just a portion of it.
There’s something sociological going on, according to Powell, who is also an associate professor of psychiatry at UConn Health. She and other academics who have investigated why men delay going to the doctor frequently focus on conventional masculine ideals.
According to Mary Himmelstein, an assistant professor in the department of psychological sciences at Kent State University in Ohio, men frequently believe that recognizing their grief or getting treatment means that their “man card” will be taken away.
That means people are not only hesitant to visit a doctor when they are sick or wounded, but they may also not speak honestly while they are visiting the doctor. Men must believe, put their best foot forward, and be consistently powerful. They cannot be seen as weak. They cannot be regarded as emotional, because if they are, they will lose social standing, according to Himmelstein.
According to her, the problem is consistent across age groups, but it tends to taper off as men become older and their health problems worsen.
Himmelstein claims that not all men think in this hyper-masculine manner, but those who do are particularly vulnerable.
Powell concurred. Messages like “take it like a man,” “boys don’t weep,” “walk it off,” and “soldier on” are messages that some men accept with a degree of rigidity.
Broader causes are also at work, according to Powell. The health-care system pushes women to see doctors frequently beginning with adolescence. As a result, females receive a type of early-life health socialization that boys and men do not frequently receive, especially when males participate in organized sports and are required to undergo a physical activity.
Men, she adds, have a higher level of mistrust in the medical system, and those who distrust doctors are less likely to seek treatment.
Black guys have a unique set of challenges when it comes to trust. Although historical prejudice and the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study are frequently cited as factors, Powell believes the issue is more about the here and now. Constant personal insults — the type of bigotry that causes a thousand cuts erode men’s faith in the healthcare system.
Powell believes that in the face of such problems, traditional conceptions of masculinity may benefit Black males. According to research, she led that was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Black males who reported higher levels of self-reliance — the belief that a man controls his fate, were less likely to put off blood pressure and cholesterol testing.
This, according to Powell, shows the path to a solution. In other respects, they may reverse the script, telling men that the best way to be a man about their lives or to present themselves as strong and protectors, is to take care of their health.
That is exactly what the military has done, according to Himmelstein. Real Warriors, for example, were employed in one campaign to remove the stigma associated with getting psychological care. Real fights. As a topic, consider “Real Strength.”
Powell believes that healthcare systems must meet men where they are. Many men who provide for their families, for example, take that duty seriously and claim they don’t want to miss work to obtain medical care. As a result, a clinic’s operation hours may be extended to nights and weekends to accommodate them.
To ensure that men and boys receive the most treatment per visit, physicals might be broadened to include more screens, such as for depression or other serious issues that men prefer to avoid. Community health workers might be used to relieve the strain on overburdened family physicians.
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