While the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged many Americans to take better care and control of their health and well-being, a new report suggests that men hold a rather optimistic outlook on their own health, even as some among them don’t actively pursue health care.
Insurance company Aflac found in its 2021 Men's Health Issues Survey that 90% of American men believe their lifestyle is somewhat or very healthy.
However, only about a third of them (34%) felt well-informed about men's health issues, while nearly half of all respondents (45%) admitted they hadn’t seen a doctor for an annual wellness checkup in the last 12 months.
Loved ones, especially female relatives, are crucial in getting men to see their doctors
When they did go to the doctor, over 4 in 10 men (44%) acknowledged that it was due to the persuasion of their partners. They're most swayed by the women in their lives, though, as 56% of respondents said that their wives, girlfriends or mothers motivated them the most.
Still, some don't go quietly, as the survey found that respondents have argued with their life partners (30%) or friends and family members (23%) about seeing the doctor. Meanwhile, 42% preferred to avoid these arguments entirely by withholding information from their loved ones, especially female family members.
Aflac's findings indicate that men, especially younger ones, may feel more empowered to see the doctor with additional support. For example, respondents between 18 and 34 years old said that they:
- Would be more inclined to keep up with annual physicals if they knew more about male-specific health issues (20%)
- Would want to talk with male family members or friends about their health concerns (16%)
Fear, anxiety and medical costs are biggest barriers for men seeking health care
According to the Aflac survey results, many men appear to be on good terms with their doctors — close to 4 in 10 respondents (37%) said they maintain a strong relationship with their primary care provider, while 65% claimed they’re honest about their personal habits and health concerns when visiting them.
But despite these figures, a majority (58%) cite one or more of the following reasons for not seeking regular preventative care:
- "[It is] easier to go to a walk-in urgent care facility or emergency clinic to see a doctor instead of my primary care physician." (22%)
- "Most ailments will heal themselves." (18%)
- "I'm too busy with work to see the doctor." (13%)
- "[I feel that] going to the doctor makes me feel less masculine." (6%)
This can be related to the fear and anxiety experienced by 21% of men when they visit their physician.
On the other hand, the steep cost of medical care may also play a large role in this apprehension. An overwhelming majority of Americans agree that health costs in the U.S. are rising, which prevents millions from seeking the care they need.
Aflac found that for 13% of respondents, concerns over medical costs keep them up at night. In addition, 45% of respondents have postponed or avoided medical treatment due to costs over the past 12 months, including:
- 21% who didn't pursue physician-recommended health screenings and follow-up treatments
- 17% who didn't fill a prescription medication after going to see a doctor for a health issue
- 16% who avoided going to see a doctor for signs or symptoms of a serious illness or injury
- 14% who put off going to see a doctor for a serious health concern
Of course, with the coronavirus pandemic still running rampant in the U.S., this hesitation is understandable. In fact, a previous survey released in January 2021 found that 51% of American adults expressed discomfort over scheduling a checkup or medical procedure with their doctor in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Methodology: Aflac and Hill+Knowlton Strategies conducted a national online survey of 1,000 U.S. men in April 2021.