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Macho men: Too tough for healthcare?

August 10, 2009 |  2:30 pm

Macho1 Middle-age men who value masculinity are almost 50% less likely than other men to go to the doctor for preventive care, such as regular check-ups, according to a study presented today at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Assn. in San Francisco.

The study found some interesting trends. Men with strong masculine beliefs who worked in blue-collar jobs were more likely to report obtaining care than other men -- the one exception to the findings. But highly educated macho men were just as unlikely to obtain preventive health care as low-educated macho men. Most research suggests that people with more education have better healthcare habits.

The study involved 1,000 men who participated in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. The men were white, middle-aged and had at least a high school degree -- a narrow population that limits the study's applicability to all men.

But the research hints at the stereotypical tough-guy image having a negative effect on men's health, the lead author of the study, Kristen W. Springer, said in a news release.

"This research strongly suggests that deep-seated masculinity beliefs are one core cause of men's poor health, inasmuch as they reduce compliance with recommended preventative health services," said Springer, of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. "These findings provide some insight into the persistent gender paradox in health whereby men have a lower life expectancy at birth relative to women, despite having higher socioeconomic resources."

-- Shari Roan

Photo: Clarence Williams  /  Los Angeles Times