“Ain’t nothing wrong with me.” Most of us have heard this from one of the men in our lives. They just don’t want to go to the doctor despite the pain they feel. Maybe in the area of love women should think like a man, but in this area men need to think more like women.
It’s so important for our men to take care of themselves. As the head of households and the back bone to our communities, women depend on men a great deal. Though our society has sometimes made men feel invalid, the fact is God created men and women for relationships with one another. Too often black women are left living lives as widows because their husbands are dying years before them from health related issues.
According to Dr. Derek Griffith, assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, African-American men die an average of seven years earlier than men of other ethnic groups, and are more likely to suffer from undiagnosed chronic illnesses.
So why don’t black men go to the doctor? Some blame the Tuskegee experiment and other instances where black men were used as guinea pigs. Supposedly this has created a stigma of distrust for doctors amongst black men.
A study done by Griffith discovered that it’s not so much that black men don’t want to go to the doctor just because they don’t want to go, rather it is the fact that they have bad experiences when they do go to the doctor. The men that participated in the study said that they were often made to feel less than and were talked down to by doctors.
Other studies show that black men do in fact have an issue with trust as it relates to physicians. In a study done by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, “men who reported being highly mistrustful of the medical system were more than twice as likely to delay routine check-ups and cholesterol screenings and three times more likely to delay having their blood pressure checked by a physician or health-care professional than men who were less mistrustful.”
Regardless of the reason as to why black men are not going, we have to find ways to encourage and motivate them to go. Here are some suggestions:
- Have a family doctor day, this way the man has the support of his family.
- Ask his best friend to go to the doctor with him.
- Find local health fairs that offer free screenings. This way the man in your life won’t feel threatened by the thought of going to a doctor’s office.
- Schedule the appointment for him. Sometimes they want to see about themselves but the fear of the unknown keeps them from even taking the first step.
- Tell him how much his health means to you and schedule a day out that includes a doctor’s visit, lunch and something he will enjoy (maybe a sporting event).
Our men are dying and this is really a topic that we can no longer ignore. It’s not funny and it’s not cute. Let’s reclaim our health and help our men do the same!
Bailey, L. Study: African American men say doctor visits are often a bad experience. University of Michigan, 26 Jan 2011.
Lane, P. Mistrust keeps black men from doctor. Futurity.org. 12 Jan 2011.