Men live shorter lives than women. They are more at risk of violence, mental ill health, and, sadly, suicide. There are also additional hazardous behaviours such as smoking, drinking, and illicit drug use. The vast majority of workplace deaths occur in men.
Men also have a considerably lower GP consultation rate than women.
Shockingly, in one survey:
There may be many reasons for this. An incomplete list might include machismo; fear of illness and/or the implications of their symptoms; discomfort in healthcare settings; a feeling of invulnerability; a desire to avoid admitting vulnerability; societal expectations and stigma.
As clinicians, we need to be aware of this. Any consultation with a male patient is an opportunity to explore their health beliefs and offer health promotion advice. Many of the conditions which are most harmful to men – heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and prostate cancer for example – are largely silent in the early stages.
Screening is a complex topic, with pros and cons, but the lifestyle interventions which will have the most benefit don’t require a diagnosis to be a good idea. Even brief interventions with lifestyle advice e.g., reducing alcohol intake or increasing activity, can be very impactful if well-timed.
Telehealth can have many benefits for men. Firstly, they don’t have to attend a GP surgery or hospital and can stay in a more comfortable environment. Secondly, they can fit contact around their life. It’s also, in theory at least, a less intimidating experience to talk to someone on the phone.
Given that men are less open about their health and here, health-seeking behaviour correlates with general social behaviour, a remote setting might make it easier for them to broach difficult subjects, such as erectile dysfunction or sexual health concerns.
Even if a face-to-face appointment turns out to be required, the clinician can help the patient understand why it matters and how to navigate the healthcare system.
As already mentioned, men who suffer from high levels of mental health problems are less likely to seek help and more likely to attempt suicide. Online mental health services are well established, and the benefits are like general healthcare. The time commitment of undertaking therapy can be significant, and telehealth potentially significantly reduces that. Urgent mental health support can also be easier to deliver in a remote setting. Similarly, nutrition advice can have a massive impact on men; weight loss has huge benefits to health and well-being, and there are many other elements of diet that can be usefully addressed.