Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The tougher men think they are, the less likely they are to be honest with doctors


Public Release: 23-Mar-2016
The tougher men think they are, the less likely they are to be honest with doctors
Men, who die on average five years earlier than women, prefer male doctors, but are more honest with female doctors
Rutgers University

Men are less likely than women to go to the doctor, more likely to choose a male doctor when they do go, but less likely to be honest with that doctor about their symptoms, Rutgers psychologists have found. The researchers believe this may contribute to men's dying earlier than women.


Himmelstein and Sanchez found that men who held traditional beliefs about masculinity - that men should be tough, brave, self-reliant and restrained in their expression of emotion - were more likely to ignore medical problems, or at least put off dealing with them, than women or than men with less traditional beliefs. They were more likely to choose a male doctor, based on the belief that male doctors were more competent than female doctors. Paradoxically, however, the researchers discovered that men, having chosen a male doctor, were less likely to be open with that doctor about their symptoms.

"That's because they don't want to show weakness or dependence to another man, including a male doctor," Sanchez says.

Ironically, the researchers found, men tend to be more honest about their medical symptoms with female doctors, because, Sanchez theorizes, to be honest about vulnerabilities causes them no loss of status with women.


However, they also discovered that women who thought they should be brave and self-reliant - according to their responses on questionnaires -- were less likely to seek treatment, more likely to put off seeking medical help and less likely to be forthcoming with their doctors than women who did not hold bravery, toughness and self-reliance as core values.

Self-reliance, therefore, seems to be dangerous to one's health, regardless of gender.

"It's worse for men, however," Himmelstein says. "Men have a cultural script that tells them they should be brave, self-reliant and tough. Women don't have that script, so there isn't any cultural message telling them that, to be real women, they should not make too much of illnesses and symptoms."

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