When Was Your Last Trip to the Doctor?

Oct 25, 2010, 10:30 ET from American Osteopathic Association

American Osteopathic Association Survey Shows That More Than a Quarter of Men Say They Don't Need a Physician At This Point in Their Lives

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Open up and say "ah" might not be words heard often by men, particularly those younger than 30. According to a new men's health survey by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), less than 63% of men ages 18 to 29 say they have visited a primary care physician in the past year, compared to more than 85% of men ages 60 or older.

The survey results are being announced during the AOA's 115th Osteopathic Medical Conference & Exposition in San Francisco, where thousands of osteopathic physicians (DOs) and medical students from around the globe are gathering to discuss a variety of health care topics and new medical research. The conference runs through Oct. 28 at the Moscone Center.

"While older men may have more reasons to see a physician, younger, healthy men who wait too long between routine physicals and who pass on screenings, such as blood pressure or diabetes, miss the opportunity to detect precursors to heart disease and other illnesses," says Joseph A. Giaimo, DO, an AOA Trustee and a board-certified internist and pulmonologist in private practice in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. "Addressing these early warning signs is often the easiest and most cost-effective way to stop illness before it starts."

The most common reasons for not going to the doctor given by male survey respondents who had not seen a primary care physician in the last two years were that it was not needed at this time or that they had no health insurance.

On a positive note, the survey provides hope that men are starting to take their health more seriously. The number of men who say they have a designated primary care physician only slightly drops from approximately nine in 10 (88.3%) in men ages 60 or older to seven in 10 (70.1%) among men ages 18 to 29.

Dr. Giaimo notes that the benefits of men visiting a primary care physician on a regular basis include:

  • Routine physicals that can detect high blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as problems with kidney and liver function early so that appropriate lifestyle changes can be made.
  • Having the opportunity to address warning signs of heart disease and other illnesses that can help prevent chronic illness in the future.
  • Recommending screenings for conditions such as prostate, colon and testicular cancer at certain age markers.
  • Recommending immunizations appropriate for the patient's age group.
  • Having the ability to make simple lifestyle changes that alone, or with the aid of prescriptions or over-the-counter medications, can help reduce the risk of chronic illness or the chances of needing surgery later in life.

The AOA provides the following steps for choosing a physician:

  • If a patient does not have health coverage through their employer or their  spouse's plan, they should consider the following:
    • Looking into whether they are eligible for government-sponsored insurance, such as Medicare, Medicaid, or new options resulting from the Affordable Care Act signed into law earlier this year.
    • Exploring health care services provided at local medical schools or academic medical centers, which sometimes offer health clinics that provide care at lowered costs.
  • A patient should ask the following questions when considering a physician:
    • Does the physician have a state medical license?
    • Is the physician board certified?
    • Did he or she graduate from an accredited medical school?
  • For help finding a DO, patients can use the AOA's Find a DO guide at www.osteopathic.org.

Other survey results of note:

  • Less than one-third (31.6%) of men ages 18 to 29 indicate they visit a physician more than once a year.
  • Over half of all men surveyed (51.5%) visited a physician specialist at least one time or more every two years, while about one-quarter (24.8%) of men have never visited a specialist.
  • Older respondents (men and women) were more likely to have visited a physician specialist in the past year, with 55.9% of those 60 or older reporting visits to a specialist in the past year compared to about 30% of those ages 18 to 29 years old.

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) proudly represents its professional family of more than 70,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs); promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools; and has federal authority to accredit hospitals and other health care facilities. More information on DOs/osteopathic medicine can be found at www.osteopathic.org.

About the Survey:

The survey was conducted from Oct. 12 to Oct. 15, 2010. A total of 1,027 respondents completed the online survey. A sample size of 1,027 has a margin of error of approximately

+/- 3.0 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

SOURCE American Osteopathic Association