In a passionate presentation at the 15th International EAUN Meeting, Dr. Ian Banks (IE) discussed the importance of addressing men’s health. “Nurses have driven the issues concerning men’s health to the foreground,” Banks said.
Banks started by admitting that he used to frown upon the stereotypical differences between men and women but he now realises there are in fact important differences between the sexes. He explained that he is not necessarily interested in what these differences are but what happens as a result of them, in particular in relation to men and health care.
The problem of men’s health is that they generally seek less primary health care than women. They don’t go to a general practitioner often, rarely visit pharmacies, and get fewer dental check-ups compared to women, for instance. There seems to be a break in the trend when men are in their 60s and they experience symptoms related to an enlarged prostate.
Banks stressed the importance of understanding the barriers for men to seek primary health care.“Men from lower-income backgrounds are dying earlier and mainly from preventable deaths, so why aren’t we preventing them?,” Banks asked. Not only do they seek help less often, when they do see a doctor or specialist, they do it much later than women.
A possible explanation is that women reported embarrassment as the main reason for them not to seek medical help. Men, in contrast, reported fear of the diagnosis as the main reason for them not to go to the doctor. Banks linked this fear to the role of the male in most societies as the breadwinner. Health issues can endanger this widely accepted role for men.
According to Banks, urological nurses and urologists need to acknowledge the different approaches to health and health care between men and women. Men should be approached differently and they should be given actionable information about urological conditions.