New research from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) could shed light on the reasons behind the poor state of men's health in Britain.
The RPSGB commissioned study, designed to discover how men's attitudes might affect their healthcare, revealed that 59% of men are reluctant to ask for help and only seek medical advice if they are 'very ill or in great pain'. This factor is compounded by their commitment to looking macho and could contribute towards reducing their life expectancy by up to five years*.
The research showed that almost two in five men (39%) believe that crying during films is not a manly trait, and one in six claimed that revealing a vulnerable side to their partner was a not an option for them. Under general circumstances, asking for help is considered not to be a macho characteristic, particularly when changing a tyre (33%), requiring directions (13%) or needing medical advice (7%). One in seventeen men (6%) revealed that they believe they will be considered 'soft' if seeking medical help and one in seven (14%) were afraid of what they might be told.
Despite men's life expectancy in comparison to women's improving over the last 20 years, the gap decreasing from 5.8 years to 4.3 years**, there is still a significant difference between the sexes. If men looked after themselves better and their life expectancy was as high as women's, it is estimated that 40,000 less men would die each year.
David Pruce, the RPSGB's Director of Policy, said:
"Men's health has been improving over the last 20 years and this is very much down to a change in habits - men are smoking less and paying much better attention to their diets. What we need now is a change in attitude. Men need to snap out of the 'big boys don't cry' mind-set and start taking health problems seriously.
"The statistics show that the greatest threat to a man's health is still himself! We really need to get men into the habit of getting themselves checked out by a health professional more regularly. Men are at much greater risk than women of developing chronic illnesses like heart and respiratory disease - partly due to not being diagnosed early enough.
"Men are often reluctant to visit their GP but visit a pharmacy quite regularly to pick up everyday essentials like aftershave, condoms and vitamins. While they are there, guys should speak to their pharmacist and ask them for advice or a health check - it's so easy. There is no need for an appointment and most have private consultation rooms for discreet assessments.
"The pharmacy is a great place to start. It's free and they will always refer people to a GP if necessary."
Men's health - the facts:
- Five thousand people are severely injured in accidents every year in the UK, 75% of them men. Males also score heavily in other indicators of aggression and rebellion - four times as many take their own lives compared to women and men make up 88% of all drug offenders
- Men are more likely than women to be overweight and the majority of men are too heavy: 45% are medically defined as overweight and an additional 17% as obese
- 28% of men still smoke
- 27% of men drink alcohol at a level that could be harmful to their health
- The suicide rate among men is increasing. The rate has doubled among 15-24 year olds in the past 25 years
- Men are more likely than women to be mentally ill
- Compared to the wider population, Indian, Bangladeshi, Black, Caribbean and Irish men are at greater risk of heart disease and stroke
A case study, Pharmacists convince men to take health seriously, is available via http://www.rpsgb.org/pdfs/pharmcasestudymenshealth.pdf, outlining the work of pharmacy in men's health at Knowlsey Primary Care Trust, Merseyside.
About the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB)
The RPSGB is the professional and regulatory body for pharmacists in England, Scotland and Wales. It also regulates pharmacy technicians on a voluntary basis, which is expected to become statutory under anticipated legislation. The primary objectives of the RPSGB are to lead, regulate, develop and represent the profession of pharmacy.
The RPSGB leads and supports the development of the profession within the context of the public benefit. This includes the advancement of science, practice, education and knowledge in pharmacy. In addition, it promotes the profession's policies and views to a range of external stakeholders in a number of different forums.
Following the publication in 2007 of the Government White Paper Trust, Assurance and Safety - The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century, the RPSGB is working towards the demerger of its regulatory and professional roles. This will see the establishment of a new General Pharmaceutical Council and a new professional body for pharmacy in 2010.