New Survey Reveals Improvement in the State of Men’s Health, But Really?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Leslie Champlin
Senior Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 6252

LEAWOOD, Kan. — New data indicate men are taking better care of themselves these days, but are they really?

Yes and no, according to an online survey recently completed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, conducted by Harris Poll. The survey shows that nearly half of men (49 percent) rate their health as excellent or very good -- up from 2007 (42 percent). However, more men have been diagnosed with a chronic condition since then (48 percent vs. 42 percent), and many still spend a considerable amount of time in front of a screen (about 20 hours a week working at a computer and 19 hours a week in front of a television).

“The survey results are a mixed bag. We have some good and some bad,” said Wanda Filer, MD, MBA, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “Essentially, the survey shows that not feeling sick is not necessarily the same as being healthy.”

The AAFP recently surveyed 916 men across the country about their health behaviors. The results were compared to the same survey conducted in 2007 among 1,157 men.

For example, the survey results show:

  • The percent of men who have been diagnosed with at least one chronic condition (high blood pressure,   diabetes, arthritis, cancer, heart disease) rose from four in 10 (42 percent) to nearly half (48 percent).
  • On average, men surveyed spend slightly more than 20 hours a week working at a computer (down from 26 hours a week in 2007) and 19 hours a week in front of a television (no change compared to 2007).
  • But they are paying more attention to exercise. In 2016, more than half (52 percent) say they exercise or work out regularly, considered a huge leap from 2007, when fewer than four in 10 (38 percent) regularly exercised.
  • Men are more likely to get their health care from a doctor whom they see regularly for medical advice or treatment. Nearly eight in 10 (79 percent) have a regular doctor or health care professional they see when they are sick or want medical advice, up from seven in 10 (74 percent) in 2007.
  • In both 2016 and 2007, almost six in 10 (59 percent in 2016 and 58 percent in 2007) say barriers prevent them from going to the doctor, but lack of insurance doesn’t appear to be a big one of them (5 percent in 2016, down from 11 percent in 2007). The two most common barriers were feeling they should be extremely sick to seek health care (31 percent, down from 36 percent in 2007) and feeling they had no reason to go to a doctor because they were healthy (21 percent, down from 23 percent in 2007).

“Men have begun paying more attention to their health and acting to maintain good health,” Filer said of the results. “They are getting physical exams, increasing their exercise activity and getting their health care from their regular doctor. All of these are good. Research consistently shows that preventive care helps avoid serious illness, exercise is the best way to maintain healthy hearts and weight, and having a regular doctor prevents fragmented or duplicated care.”

She pointed to as an information source for men to learn about nutrition, exercise and maintaining good health.

Filer noted more men reported a chronic condition than in 2007. The incidence of chronic conditions increases with age, “but it’s also possible that more men report having a chronic condition because they went to the doctor and learned about a previously unknown health issue. That, in turn, may have spurred them to start exercising more regularly.”

Still, men have a ways to go, she said. Regardless of whether the rise in chronic conditions reflects an aging population or improved detection as more men seek health care from their physician, “the reality is that more men need to make their health a greater priority,” Filer said. “A family physician in a medical home provides preventive care to detect and treat problems before they become serious. That’s one of the keystones to maintaining good health.”

Family physicians focus on prevention and the early detection of illness by treating the whole person and the whole family -- men, women, children, in fact all age groups. In addition to providing routine check-ups, immunizations, screening tests and other care, family physicians care for chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, asthma, arthritis and depression. Moreover, family physicians coordinate with all members of their patients’ health care team, including subspecialists, rehabilitation therapists and mental health professionals.

“If more men develop ongoing relationships with their family physician, their perception of good health is more likely to become reality,” Filer said.

Survey methodology
These surveys were conducted online within the United States between April 30-May 2, 2007 among 1,157 men ages 18 and over, and between April 15-19, 2016 among 916 men ages 18 and over, on behalf of AAFP by Harris Poll via its Quick Query omnibus product. These online surveys are not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Leslie Champlin, 800-274-2237, Ext. 5224, or

Editor's Note: Click here to view the online media kit.


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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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