The health care system "has simply not been very good to men"

LETTER — Posted March 14, 2005

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Regarding "Tailoring care for men" (Editorial, Feb. 21): It is wonderful to finally see men's health get some much-needed attention, but it is a mistake to blame the crisis in men's health on lack of participation by men.

Blaming the victims of a problem rarely by itself is an adequate approach, although this is quite current socially. Our health care system has simply not been very good to men. It does not adapt itself to care for their real needs and concerns itself too much with their supposed needs.

We need to study men and their health and social issues with compassion, empathy and caring. For example, it is quite impossible for men to get an evening appointment from the average primary care doctor. Nor are men encouraged to talk and open up to their doctors. All of this needs work.

Women are more accustomed to seeing their ob-gyn docs for menstrual and pregnancy issues and because of national cancer screening campaigns that are well-publicized. The record for women for cardiovascular diseases -- the largest killer of women, and far less publicized -- is dismal.

Of course, as you suggest, gender studies are useful but I think overly acclaimed because it is popular to do so and can be very wasteful of precious resources. It's more important for physicians to see the need to treat and protect all parts of our patient populations and not let disparities, such as those in men's health, occur.

Arnold Robbins, MD, Cambridge, Mass.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/03/14/edlt0314.htm.

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