A yearly physical exam has many benefits, but men irrationally avoid them
It is one of the most important parts of a healthy lifestyle. There’s no sweat or pain, no significant time commitment, and no high-priced memberships or equipment to purchase. Still, men are incredibly worried and go out of their way to avoid it, despite the added risk men run from the unhealthy choices they make.
What could be so treacherous to make the most manly of men do almost anything to avoid it? And the annual physique?
Although it is the basis of healthy behavior, a routine visit to the doctor is not that routine for many men. The “why” behind this behavior is well documented, but not well reasoned. The answer, like so many behavioral challenges in medicine, seems to lie somewhere between stereotypical views of manhood and a shift in cultural norms.
Yes, while some men may see themselves as the less emotional and rational kind, when it comes to just making a doctor’s appointment, a man’s behavior is quite the opposite.
An entrenched attitude
In a survey conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, only 50% of men said they consider their annual check-up to be an integral part of taking care of themselves. Worse, even among men who take their health more seriously, researchers found that 20% admitted they hadn’t been completely honest with their doctors.
the American Academy of Family Physicians found that 55% of the men surveyed had not seen their doctor for a physical exam in the past year, even though 40% had at least one chronic illness. Almost a fifth of men aged 55 and over said they had never been screened for colon cancer, and almost 30% said they “waited as long as possible” to see a doctor when they felt sick or in pain.
Why the reluctance?
An online survey published by the Orlando Health The hospital system has found that there are several reasons why men may be reluctant to see the doctor for an annual check-up. They included: too busy to go (22%), fear of finding out what is wrong (21%), having prostate, rectal or other uncomfortable exams (18%), answering personal questions (8%) ), step on the scale (7%), not wanting to be naked under a gown (7%), the examination rooms are cold (4%), and something else (9%).
Is that so? Clearly, while men may claim to be concerned about their health, if not for themselves but for others in their lives, the evidence proves otherwise and the rational is lame.
The case of an annual physical examination
According to Duke University Health System, annual physical examinations create a baseline for health and strengthen the patient-physician relationship, which is important for maximizing well-being. They suggest that a face-to-face wellness visit helps you connect with your doctor, build trust, and share your healthcare preferences before serious illness strikes. It is also an opportunity to discuss important health issues such as disease screening and lifestyle changes tailored to your needs. The best way for you to receive comprehensive, personalized care is for your doctor to know you at all levels of health.
Mount Sinai Medical Center says that when you have regular check-ups you are much more likely to discover health problems than if you had to rely on finding them at home. Doctors are trained to observe symptoms and find out what is causing those symptoms, so early detection gives you a much better chance of overcoming a health problem or disease as it is detected early on. Early detection also leads to much cheaper medical treatment. Whether you pay the health care costs out of pocket or have good insurance, the cost of prevention and early detection is far less than the cost of treating an illness or other significant health problem.
Motivate the unmotivated
Research of Frontiers in Psychology recognizes that motivating people who are reluctant to adopt healthy behaviors is a significant challenge. They argue that effective strategies for promoting behavior change in so-called “unmotivated individuals” are relatively rare.
However, researchers argue that there are viable approaches. For example, by focusing on your values - the things that are most important to you, what you want most in life, and balancing how your behavior fits with your goals and values - you can help. to stimulate motivation to change your behavior. Examining the gaps between your ideal living conditions and actual conditions may induce a desire to recalibrate everyday behaviors to be more in line with deeply held and unmotivated beliefs.
Can we buy our way to good health?
Other research has focused on behavioral economics, the use of financial incentives to encourage healthy behavior. We see it today with COVID-19 vaccines, but such strategies have been used for several years.
Many health insurers have launched member incentive programs that provide cash payments or other forms of value related to doctor visits or other healthy behaviors such as health club membership. . For the insurer, these payments are investments that reduce the risk of covering more serious and costly health problems. It is also a bet that the member can ultimately continue these behaviors in the absence of the incentive.
Critics of behavioral economics argue that the key to sustaining behavior change is the internalization of behaviors and the pursuit of value beyond the monetary incentive, which they believe to be limited, short-term change.
In my book, I talked about the Neanderthal culture that still persists among humans. To this day, it is frequently cited when men are asked about their aversion to an annual medical exam. Men continue to believe that they are not supposed to be vulnerable to the disease and that seeing a doctor is a sign of weakness.
Guys, it’s 2021. Get out of the cave. Put down your club and go to the doctor. Be part of a cultural shift where men are giving their bodies the preventative care and attention they give to their cars. It’s a rational choice and a routine worth starting.
Louis Bezich, senior vice president of strategic alliances at Cooper University Health Care, is the author of “Crack The Code: 10 Proven Secrets That Motivate Healthy Behavior And Inspire Thing In Men Over 50. “Read more from Louis on his website.