NOTE: The following is an excerpt from TeleVox’s Healthy World report, “A Fragile Nation in Poor Health”, which reveals the majority of Americans fail to follow their doctors’ advice, and uncovers a significant gap in our nation’s healthcare system – lack of patient care between doctor visits. Download it HERE!
It’s all too common — a man is short of breath, perhaps he has a little pain in his chest, or feels more tired than usual. Does he run to the doctor? Of course not; he assumes he’s simply out of shape. It’s no secret that men have shorter life spans than women. Perhaps that’s because men take more risks, are reluctant to seek help, and feel pressured to prove they are “tough” by ignoring pain and other signs of illness.
Many men are told from a very young age, “Don’t show weakness.” With that in mind, it makes perfect sense that A Fragile Nation in Poor Health revealed more than half of all men (52%) report being in overall good health, with a mere 4% of men nationwide admitting they are in poor health.
A State of Denial
Although men believe they are healthy, the truth is, millions of men across the nation are in denial about the state of their health. According to the CDC, one in four men has some form of heart disease, the leading cause of death in men. Heart failure usually is a chronic condition that gradually gets worse over a long period. And, by the time most men see a doctor about their symptoms, the heart has been “failing,” little by little, for a long time. It’s the “strong silent type” who waits until he experiences obvious symptoms of heart failure before seeing a doctor. By then, however, the condition may already be life-threatening.
And, when men get bad news from their doctor, they are apt to overcompensate in the other areas of their lives that enhance their self-esteem. For example, they may throw themselves into work because positive feedback from employers and colleagues who recognize their accomplishments makes them feel better. However, working long hours and not getting enough exercise only exacerbate the problem. In fact, experts warn that unfit men who work long hours double their risk of dying from heart disease
To make matters worse, A Fragile Nation in Poor Health found that when men do finally go to the doctor, more than four in five (84%) admit they don’t follow treatment plans they’ve been given by their physician exactly as prescribed. Many men simply do not like being told what to do. When treatment plans aren’t presented properly, men have a tendency to rebel. It makes them feel like they are in control.
The Need to Please
So, how can physicians motivate men to follow treatment plans and take control of their health? One universal truth about men is that they are “pleasers.” When they are able to please, they feel like winners. However, if men continually come up against a physician who tells them they aren’t doing enough, they will eventually quit trying to satisfy and will rebel.
Men thrive on appreciation for their accomplishments — big and small. They don’t want doctors who try to fix their health problems, rather they prefer physicians who support them along the way and boost their confidence.
A Fragile Nation in Poor Health revealed nearly half (46%) of men who feel they could better follow their prescribed plans would be likely to do so if they received encouragement from their doctors between visits to stay on course. And, more than one-third (35%) of men would follow instructions better if they received reminders from their doctors via email, voicemail or text telling them to do something specific, like take medication or go to the gym.
Honest communication is top priority for men. They don’t want to read their physician’s mind or try to interpret vague information. Instead, they want doctors who answer questions honestly and volunteer information. They want physicians who are straightforward and tell it like it is, while communicating with kindness and without criticism. Bear in mind, doctors need to preserve the dignity of their male patients, so they need to be careful about appearing judgmental. And, whenever possible, they should focus on what male patients are doing right!