Cleveland Clinic National Survey Finds Some Men Prefer Seeing Their Doctor Virtually

National MENtion It® campaign examines shift toward the use of virtual healthcare after Cleveland Clinic sees 37,000 virtual visits in 2019 increase to 1.2 million in 2020

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A new national survey by Cleveland Clinic reveals that some men prefer seeing their doctor virtually, especially when it comes to discussing men’s health issues.  

According to the survey, 44% of all men said they prefer discussing sexual health issues with a doctor online or over the phone because they are too embarrassed to do it in person, and 66% of all men have used digital health services in the past 12 months. Cleveland Clinic, which went from 37,000 virtual visits in 2019 to 1.2 million in 2020, is fully open for in-person care but continues to see the trend toward increased use of virtual healthcare in 2021.

The survey was issued as part of Cleveland Clinic’s sixth annual educational campaign, “MENtion It®,” which aims to address the fact that men often do not “MENtion” health issues or take steps to prevent them. This year, the survey dug deeper into how some barriers impact the ability for men of color to access care as well as the cultural differences that exist when it comes to discussing men’s health issues that could be considered taboo in certain cultures, like infertility or erectile dysfunction.

The online survey was taken earlier this year by a representative sample of 1,000 American males 18 years of age and older, with additional oversamples for demographics representing Hispanic, Black/African American, Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American/Alaskan Native.

“Given the fact that we are still very much in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to understand how virtual healthcare may play a bigger role for men, and particularly for men of color who are disproportionately affected by various healthcare disparities,” said Eric Klein, M.D., chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute. “We found that just getting to the doctor is a challenge for some men, and that other men find it easier to open up to their doctor over the computer screen versus in person.”

Key survey findings:

  • One-quarter of men of color (26%) and 20% of white men said they visit their physician less than once a year or never.
  • 66% of all men have used digital health services in the past 12 months.
  • Roughly half (52%) of men of color and 37% of white men said when they need to visit a doctor, it is difficult for them to get the time off work to do so.
  • 29% of all men said they would prefer to have an online visit with a doctor/healthcare professional rather than an in-person visit. Younger generations are more open to virtual visits, with 41% of millennials and 36% of Generation Z adults preferring an online visit compared to 9% of boomers/silent generation
  • When discussing sexual health issues, 44% of all men said they prefer to speak with a doctor online or over the phone because they are too embarrassed to do it in person.  
  • More than half of Hispanic men (56%) said they prefer discussing sexual health issues with a doctor online because they’re too embarrassed to do so in person.

One aim of this year’s MENtion It campaign is to bring more awareness to health issues specific to men of color. For example, Black/African Americans are six times more likely to develop kidney failure from hypertension. Hispanic men are more likely than white men to have diabetes and diabetes-related kidney failure, and to die from it. African American men are also more likely to have the more dangerous types of prostate cancer.

“These findings have helped us understand better ways of reaching men of color, such as adding a Hispanic Men’s Health Clinic at Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital, a location with a large Hispanic population,” said Georges Haber, M.D., chair of urology in the Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute. “Our hope is to continue educating men that early detection through preventive health screenings and checkups are essential to diagnosing many of these conditions while they are still in early treatable and curable stages.”

Visit www.clevelandclinic.org/MENtionIt for more information about men’s health and important preventive steps every man can take.

Patient Stories

Man’s Annual Physical Detects Aggressive Kidney Tumor Before Symptoms Emerged

For the past eight years, Bill Cosgrove has participated in Cleveland Clinic’s Executive Health program. It provides patients a head-to-toe medical evaluation. During his most recent exam, doctors noticed an abnormality in his triglyceride levels. An ultrasound revealed a dark spot on one of his kidneys. It turned out to be a fast-growing cancer. Surgeons removed the golf ball-sized tumor, and saved about 90% of the kidney. Bill believes without his in-depth, annual physical, his cancer would have gone undiagnosed.

Man Benefits from Focused Ultrasound Therapy for Prostate Cancer

Jeff has always tried to live a healthy life. He was shocked when doctors diagnosed him with early-stage prostate cancer. For the past three years, he’s managed his condition through active surveillance. When Jeff learned about a relatively new treatment option, he was ready to try it. High-intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU, uses the energy of sound waves to target, heat and kill prostate cancer cells. Jeff says it’s allowed him to enjoy his life again.

Man Delays Hospital Visit Because of COVID-19, Nearly Dies From Heart Attack

On Easter morning in 2020, Patrick Parry experienced a severe case of indigestion. His symptoms didn’t improve after several hours, but he talked himself out of a visit to the emergency department. The COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning to accelerate in Ohio, which affected his decision to not seek care. Later the same morning, his wife found him unconscious on the floor. Patrick was having a heart attack. Patrick spent two months in the hospital but has since been able to return to his law practice, full-time.

Methodology

Key findings of an online survey conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 American males 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States. In addition to the general population sample of males, an oversample was collected for minority male races/ethnicities to reach the following total samples for each:

  • Hispanic (n = 364 total sample)
  • Black/African American (n = 318 total sample)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (n=340 total sample)
  • Native American/Alaskan Native (n=355 total sample)

The online survey was conducted by Savanta and completed between May 18th– May 27th, 2021. The margin of error (MOE) for the total male Gen Pop sample at the 95% confidence level is +/- 2.12 percentage points.

About Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic – now in its centennial year – 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 70,800 employees worldwide are more than 4,660 salaried physicians and researchers, and 18,500 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,500-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 19 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2020, there were 8.7 million total outpatient visits, 273,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 217,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

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