Struggling to convince your husband … or father … or brother to go to the doctor?
You’re not alone.
According to a survey performed by the Cleveland Clinic, 72 percent of men admitted they’d rather do household chores – such as cleaning the bathroom – than go see a doctor.
Whether it be feelings of vulnerability that come with talking openly and honestly about one’s health, the misconception that seeking medical care is a sign of weakness, the resistance to spending money, or any other host of reasons men cite for avoiding the doctor’s office – the consequences of putting off regular care are serious. Compared to women, men are at increased risk of experiencing complications from high blood pressure, having a heart attack, suffering from prostate or colorectal cancers, and developing diabetes.
So how do you convince the man in your life to see a doctor and subsequently help him prevent the onset of a serious illness? Here are five ways you can encourage him to take a more proactive approach to health.
1. Be Supportive
When your attempts to encourage your male loved one to see a doctor are met with resistance, listen and seek to understand the obstacle. If he’s worried about receiving bad news, remind him that preventive care improves his chances of addressing any issues early, treating them successfully, and avoiding long-term health consequences.
If the idea of spending money is holding him back, it’s worth explaining that preventive well-visits and screenings are far less expensive than the alternative.
“Prioritizing your health by scheduling annual checkups and screenings isn’t just advantageous for your quality of life, it’s good for your wallet, too,” said Dr. Amanda Kossak, Family Medicine Physician at ThedaCare. “The earlier you identify an issue, the less likely you are to require costly treatments and specialty care.”
Above all, remind the man in your life that he’s loved. Taking care of his health is the most promising way to extend the years and quality of his life, not just for his own benefit, but for yours.
2. Help Him Get Started
For some men, organizing a trip to the doctor’s office feels like a chore. Make it easier on him by offering to help with the basics:
- Schedule an appointment, with his permission, of course
- Compile a summary of his health history and list of potential questions to ask his provider
- Research and choose a primary care provider
“Establishing a relationship with a primary care provider can seem like a daunting task,” said Kossak. “But making that long-term connection ensures the patient receives a consistent and individualized level of care going forward.”
Once he completes an initial visit with his provider, your loved one will likely feel more confident about taking the initiative to schedule future appointments and keep up with regular screenings.
3. Let the Facts Do the Talking
Backing up your argument with proven facts is a great way to help the man in your life understand the bigger picture. Look for credible research that shows him:
- The risks of delaying preventive care and screenings, particularly since some conditions may be asymptomatic
- The benefits of receiving regular care, particularly in reducing the likelihood of developing an illness or injury
- Common conditions and recommended screenings for his age group and health history
“More than anything, help him understand what is normal and expected among men his age,” said Kossak. “It’s important for him to realize he’s not alone, and that preventive care is something every man should make time for.”
4. Start Slow
If he remains reluctant, your best bet may be to ease him into the process. Here are a few suggestions for reducing the amount of pressure your male family member may feel about visiting the doctor’s office:
- Make him feel more comfortable by accompanying him to the appointment
- Lead by example, scheduling your own annual visit for the same day and time
- Increase his exposure/comfort level by having him take the kids to their appointments
- Provide an incentive for going, such as a dinner at his favorite restaurant or tickets to a sporting event
“Some men refuse to see a doctor out of fear or embarrassment,” said Kossak. “Expecting too much, too quickly could exacerbate the issue and prolong his hesitation. Make sure he feels supported and that ultimately, the choice is his to make.”
5. Make it Easy and Convenient
A face-to-face visit with a primary care provider may be the preferred method for pursuing care, but it isn’t the only option. If the idea of stepping foot in a doctor’s office is just too much to handle, suggest starting with a virtual visit. This is a great way for him to grow more comfortable speaking to a doctor, provides an opportunity for him to ask some preliminary questions, and can help him understand what to expect from an in-person wellness visit once he’s ready. It may also be beneficial to remind him about 24/7 access to appointment scheduling and eVisits, all of which can be completed from a computer or smartphone.
“The greater the time commitment and difficulty of going to the doctor, the lower the likelihood that most of us will make it a priority,” said Kossak. “Luckily, care options continue to grow more convenient and accessible, giving all of us – including the men in our lives – fewer reasons to be resistant.”
Need help encouraging a male loved one to receive appropriate care? Our online symptom checker, virtual appointments and on-the-go scheduling could be the answer