Why Men Skip Doctor Visits
Many Say They Feel Fine and Only Go to the Doctor When They're Extremely Sick
June 20, 2007 -- Many U.S. men only go to their doctor when they're
extremely sick, skipping preventive care, a new survey shows.
Harris Interactive conducted the online survey of more than 1,100 men for
the American Academy of Family Physicians.
The men completed the survey between April 30 and May 2. Survey topics
included why men go to their doctor -- and why they stay away from the doctor's
While most men -- 85% -- said they seek medical treatment when they're
sick, almost all -- 92% -- said they waited at least a few days to see if they
felt better before seeking care.
Nearly 30% of the men push that strategy to the limits, saying they wait
"as long as possible" to see if they get better before seeking medical
care or advice.
"One of the biggest obstacles to improving the health of men is men
themselves. They don't make their health a priority," states AAFP President
Rick Kellerman, MD, in an AAFP news release.
What's the Problem?
In the survey, most men indicated that they have health insurance, have a
doctor, and feel comfortable talking to their doctor.
However, more than half of the men -- 58% -- said something keeps them from
going to the doctor.
Why the reluctance? The survey included a list of possible reasons; the men
could select more than one reason. Here are their responses:
- I only go to the doctor if I am extremely sick: 36%
- I am healthy, I have no reason to go to a doctor: 23%
- I prefer to treat myself naturally: 12%
- I don't have time to go to the doctor: 12%
- I don't have health insurance: 11%
- I don't like doctors: 8%
- I am afraid of finding out that something is wrong with me: 7%
- I don't know of a good doctor in my area: 4%
Also, 39% of the men said nothing prevented them from going to the
In the survey, the men also rated their health. Nearly 80% said they felt
they were in excellent, very good, or good health.
But feeling fine doesn't always mean you're in tip-top shape.
For instance, someone who dodges doctor visits might not know whether their
cholesterol or blood pressure is too high. Those problems don't have obvious
"Many men are unaware that simple screening tests and lifestyle changes
can dramatically improve their quality of life," Kellerman says.
The survey shows that 28% of the men had been diagnosed with high blood
pressure (hypertension), 13% with arthritis, 10% with diabetes, 8% with cancer,
and 8% with heart disease.
The men also noted that, on average, they spend nearly 19 hours per week
watching television but less than five hours per week exercising or working
Men may be more likely to see their doctor if their wife or partner
encourages them to do so, according to the survey.
Most of the men who completed the survey -- 69% -- said they had a spouse or
Of those men, nearly 80% said their spouse/significant other influences
their decision to go to the doctor.
When men do go to the doctor, most say they always or usually follow their
doctor's advice, the survey also notes.
- Are you guilty
of avoiding the doctor? Why? Tell us about it on the Men’s Health:
Man-to-Man message board.