Cleveland Clinic Survey Confirms Men Rarely Talk About Their Health With Each Other

National "MENtion It" campaign aims to raise awareness about life-saving screenings

When men get together, it’s a good bet they’re not talking about their health – unless it’s to brag about “hero injuries” like the broken arm from a bike flip gone wrong or the stitches from a carpentry close-call. Other than that, a national survey by Cleveland Clinic confirms what has long been suspected – men are not talking about their health with one another.

According to the survey, just over half (53 percent) of men said that their health just isn’t something they talk about. Men are much more likely to discuss current events (36 percent), sports (32 percent) and their job (32 percent) than their health (7 percent) with their male friends.

When men do discuss their health, they brag about hero injuries (36 percent) or wait until they’ve had a close-call (42 percent) to talk about it. Below-the-belt issues, such as problems in the bedroom (5 percent) or urinary issues (3 percent), are rarely discussed among men.

The survey was issued as part of a new educational campaign, “MENtion It,” which aims to address the fact that men often do not “MENtion” health issues or take steps to prevent them. The survey confirms this: 19 percent of men admitted going to the doctor to stop a loved one from nagging and 40 percent don’t get annual check-ups.

“This survey illustrates the fact that men need to pay attention to their health and take steps today to talk about it, make an appointment and get the necessary screenings that could impact their lives,” said Eric Klein, M.D., chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute. “With more health resources and services available for men today than ever before, there really is no excuse for men not to talk about their health and take control of it.”

The survey also found that one-fifth of men (22 percent) do not discuss private topics such as health or relationships with anyone. Baby Boomers are especially private about personal matters. Only one-third (29 percent) of Baby Boomers have more than one person they feel comfortable discussing private topics with, compared to 47 percent of Millennials.

Other Key Findings from the Survey

Talking About Health

  • Men keep their health problems close to home: Overall, American males tend to turn to their spouse or significant other first to discuss a health issue (48 percent).
  • Men who have not discussed their health with male friends in the past year have not done so because they believe it is not their friends’ business (38 percent) and they don’t trust them to keep that type of information private (7 percent).
  • When men do open up about their health to other men, they are most comfortable speaking about common health issues, such as injuries, including those from sports (35 percent); weight gain (21 percent) and high blood pressure (17 percent).

Proactively Dealing with Health

  • Although most men pay more attention to their health as they age, all men should be more engaged patients. Only two-in-five men (42 percent) go to the doctor when they fear they have a serious medical condition.
  • Surprisingly, only 12 percent would turn to a doctor first if they had a health issue and 10 percent of men do not know what a urologist is, particularly young men (17 percent of Millennials vs. 7 percent of Baby Boomers.)
  • When it comes to prevention of health issues, concern varies significantly by health condition. Forty-four percent are most concerned with preventing a heart attack and forty-two percent are concerned about preventing cancer. Interestingly, men are just as concerned about weight gain (24 percent) as they are about having a stroke (23 percent.)
  • Men across age groups do not know the right age to be screened for various health conditions. Only one-third (28 percent) of men knew the correct age to start being tested for colon or rectal cancer is, according to the CDC, at age 50.
  • When it comes to prostate cancer screening (PSA), on average, survey respondents thought age 42 is when screenings should begin; it’s actually age 55-69 according to the Urology Care Foundation. 
  • For cardiovascular disease or coronary artery disease, the American Heart Association recommends regular screening tests begin at age 20; about half (55 percent) of survey respondents thought it should begin at age 40 or older. 
  • When it comes to blood pressure screenings, the American Heart Association recommends that individuals should start being tested at age 20; survey respondents believe that screening shouldn’t start until age 35.

“Prevention is paramount for a man’s health,” said Dr. Klein. “Knowing the facts, being proactive and taking advantage of the numerous advancements in healthcare today can make a big difference in a man’s life.”

As part of the campaign, Cleveland Clinic produced a short video that highlights the need for men to open up about their health. Visit www.clevelandclinic.org/MENtionit for more information about men’s health and important preventive steps every man can take.

Methodology

Cleveland Clinic’s survey of American men gathered insights into the behaviors and attitudes of men related to their health, including their go-to sources to discuss health, barriers to talking about health, health concerns and steps taken to address health concerns. This was a national telephone survey of 502 men 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States. Survey results have a margin of error of +/- 4.37 percent at the 95% confidence level. Complete survey results are available online at: www.clevelandclinic.org/MENtionit.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 49,000 employees are more than 3,400 full-time salaried physicians and researchers and 14,000 nurses, representing 120 medical specialties and subspecialties. The Cleveland Clinic health system includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, nine community hospitals, more than 150 northern Ohio outpatient locations – including 18 full-service family health centers and three health and wellness centers – and locations in Weston, Fla.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2015, there were 6.6 million outpatient visits, 164,700 hospital admissions and 208,807 surgical cases throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 180 countries. Visit us at www.clevelandclinic.org.  Follow us at www.twitter.com/ClevelandClinic.

Editor’s Note: Cleveland Clinic News Service is available to provide broadcast-quality interviews and B-roll upon request.