Could "machismo" affect your decisions about routine health care? New research suggests that men who subscribe to macho ideals may be less likely to get routine medical care.

In a study conducted by researchers at Rutgers University, middle-aged men who were most devoted to traditional beliefs about masculinity were 50 percent less likely than other men to get routine medical care.

The researchers examined the results of surveys taken in 2004 by 1,000 white, middle-aged men in Wisconsin.

Beliefs about masculinity were assessed based on men's level of agreement with eight statements, which included thoughts such as: "When a man is feeling pain, he should not let it show," and "A man should always try to project an air of confidence even if he really doesn't feel confident inside."

The same 1,000 men also reported on whether they had received an annual physical, prostate exam, or flu shot in the past 12 months.

The study authors concluded that the results provide evidence that strong endorsement of macho ideals reduces the odds that men will obtain recommended preventive health services.

Experts agree, however, that the study has limitations due to the fact that all participants were white and all had a high school degree. There are also unanswered questions such as whether spouses play a role in men's decision-making about routine medical care.

"We could help men's health if we could dismantle this idea that manhood and masculinity is about being invulnerable, not needing help and not showing pain," said study author Kristen W. Springer, an assistant professor of sociology at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

If macho ideals play a role in preventing you from seeking routine medical care, consider this: The best way to take care of yourself and your family is to actively take part in your own health care. Here are some tips to help you get started.

What Every Man Should Know for Optimal Health

It's important to see your doctor for routine screening tests. These tests can find diseases early, when they are easiest to treat.

Talk to you doctor about these routine tests to be at the top of your health game:

Cholesterol. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease. It is good to have your cholesterol checked regularly beginning at age 35.

Blood pressure. High blood pressure raises your chance of having a stroke or getting heart or kidney disease. Get your blood pressure checked every two years.

Colorectal cancer. Start having tests for colorectal cancer at age 50. You may need to be tested before this if you have a family history of the cancer.

Other cancers. Ask your doctor if you should be screened for prostate, lung, oral, skin, or other cancers. This will depend on your medical and family history.

If you have not seen a doctor in over a year, call now to schedule an appointment. During the visit, give your doctor as much information as you can about your medical history and any medications you are taking. Also, be sure to tell your doctor about any problems that you may be having, even if they are embarrassing. All of this information can help your doctor determine which medical tests you may need. Getting routine medical care will help ensure that you are living at the top of your game.


Dotinga, R. For Macho Men, Doctor Visits are Less Likely. US New & World Report. Aug. 11, 2009. Accessed Dec. 7, 2009.

Men: Stay Healthy at Any Age. US Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed Dec. 7, 2009.

Recommended Men's Screening Tests, Ages 20 and up. Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates. Accessed Dec. 7, 2009.