Married Men More Likely to Get a Medical Checkup

Wives, health insurance play roles in seeking preventive care

man and woman holding hands

Married men young and old are more likely to have had a medical checkup in the last year compared to single men or those with a live-in partner, says a new study from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

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The study showed that 76 percent of married men were more likely than cohabitating men and other non-married men to have had a health care visit within the past year. 

Married men also were more likely to have had a blood pressure and cholesterol check and a screening for diabetes

However, that association between marriage and medical checkups was only seen only among men with health insurance. 

CDC researchers theorize that when men have the means to access health care, their spouses may directly encourage them to seek preventive care. The spouses also may indirectly evoke in men a sense of economic and social obligation to the family, CDC researchers said.

Wives make appointments

It’s not uncommon for wives to make the appointment for their husbands, says Daniel Sullivan, MD. Dr. Sullivan did not take part in the study, but sees patients at Cleveland Clinic.

“When I ask a male patient why they’re in the office, they say, ‘I had to be here. I was encouraged, quote unquote forced, to come by my loved one,’ ” Dr. Sullivan says.

Many men won’t schedule a doctor’s visit unless they are experiencing symptoms, Dr. Sullivan says. 

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“If it doesn’t affect them with symptoms, it’s really not something that gets their attention,” he says. “It’s not that they don’t care; it’s just that they don’t feel it.”

That’s not an effective way to take care of yourself, Dr. Sullivan says. “When the symptoms hit, that’s disease at its advanced stage,” he says.

Live-in partners 

Live-in partners do not play a similar health-promoting role, the study says.

Cohabitating men were less likely to have had a health care visit, compared with married men and other non-married men.

They also were less likely to have had selected clinical preventive services in the past 12 months, the CDC says. These screenings, which the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends, include checks for blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and diabetes.

Cohabitating men are a group particularly at risk of not receiving these clinical preventive services, the CDC says.

Only about half of men in this group for whom cholesterol and diabetes screenings are recommended had received these screenings in the past 12 months.

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Early lookout

Married or not, men need to make sure they get a medical checkup once a year, even if they’re feeling healthy, Dr. Sullivan says.

Your doctor can help you to manage your overall health goals.  Your doctor also is an early lookout for serious illnesses or chronic conditions, Dr. Sullivan says.

The CDC released the results in conjunction with National Men’s Health Week, which ended on Father’s Day.

Researchers say they hope their findings help to illustrate to unmarried men how important it is to see their doctors regularly.

 

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