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For Macho Men, Doctor Visits Are Less Likely
Date:8/11/2009

Not showing pain, weakness can stop them from getting health care, study suggests,,

TUESDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- It's no secret that men don't like to go to the doctor, but new research finds they're especially likely to stay home if they're big on being macho.

Middle-aged men who are most devoted to traditional beliefs about masculinity are half as likely as other men to get routine medical care, researchers report.

It's not clear whether feelings about masculinity directly make men avoid doctor visits; the study only indicates that a cause-and-effect link might exist. Nor do researchers know what this might mean for men's health.

Still, the findings suggest that "we could help men's health if we could dismantle this idea that manhood and masculinity is about being invulnerable, not needing help and not showing pain," said study author Kristen W. Springer, an assistant professor of sociology at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

Previous research has suggested that "men are less likely to go to the doctor than women, across the board," Springer said -- a notion she finds surprising because men are wealthier overall, potentially giving them better access to medical care.

Springer and a colleague launched their study to determine the role that ideas about masculinity play in the decisions men make about their health care.

Springer said she defines masculinity as a "stereotypical, old-school, John Wayne- and Sylvester Stallone-style" approach to life.

The researchers examined the results of surveys taken in 2004 by 1,000 white, middle-aged men in Wisconsin. The men answered questions about their beliefs regarding masculinity and disclosed whether they'd gotten recommended annual physicals, prostate checks and flu shots.

After adjusting the results to reduce the chance they would be thrown off by such things as a high number of married participants, r
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