(File photo)

(File photo)

Online options can help when men avoid doctors: UBC researchers

Free health resource can help men even if they don’t go to the doctor

By Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee

Online health resources could continue to be a key tool for improving men’s health in Canada long after the pandemic subsides.

Men are among the most reluctant to seek medical care, but a new study co-authored by a group including two doctors at the University of British Columbia suggests online resources can boost their overall health even if they don’t see a doctor regularly.

Looking online first for information is becoming the way of the future, said Dr. John Oliffe, a men’s health expert at UBC.

“I think it is amenable to folks having easy access to information. It’s becoming more culturally what we do, and what men do.”

In partnership with Vancouver-based Intensions Consulting and the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation, Oliffe and UBC urologist Dr. Larry Goldenberg examined the health outcomes of 863 men who accessed the foundation’s e-health resource Don’t Change Much and 2,000 who had not.

Launched in 2014, Don’t Change Much is a free health resources site offering information and advice about diet, exercise, sleep and stress management tailored for men.

And what the study found was heartening for the future of men’s health care.

Among regular users of the free advice on diet, exercise and sleep, 75 per cent of men reported improving their eating habits and 70 per cent said they were playing sports and exercising more.

Nearly half reported that they had lost weight and 45 per cent said they had reduced their alcohol intake.

Oliffe said the website was designed “to appeal en masse to guys” and the study found its impact crossed demographic lines.

“We controlled for things like education, because there was diversity in that, we controlled for income, whether they were single or not, whether they are living alone,” said Oliffe. “And what we found is that these benefits, they spread across all of those demographics.”

Stigma around appearing weak or needy often prevents men from seeking medical care regularly, particularly between the ages of 20 and 50. That means they aren’t well-connected to health services when they do need help, Oliffe says.

Men are more likely to be seriously ill than women, spending an average of nine years in poor health, and are more likely than women to die of clogged arteries and heart disease.

Digital resources can help men access information privately and anonymously. If they do connect to in-person care, they have more information and know which questions to ask.

“Some of the things that trouble fellows are about vulnerabilities and self-disclosure,” said Oliffe, noting that men’s depression is much different and more affected by sleep than women’s. “Some of those traditionally masculine things actually let guys down, because it puts a barrier to the help-seeking.

“And in mental health issues, it can be really challenging to articulate what’s going on for you.”

Health-care providers also need to be cautious not to perpetuate that same stigma in interactions with patients, Oliffe said.

He’d like to see health program curricula include more training on asking open-ended questions and avoiding stigmatizing language.

“We can all make a difference to how guys think about the health care system, and think about their engagement with it, by affirming them with a strengths-based notion that if you’ve got the strength to see the problem and then try to address it with some help, then that’s very commendable behaviour,” said Oliffe.

“It’s not like it’s emasculating to be in that space.”

ALSO READ: B.C.’s new COVID-19 cases remain low, no deaths since Friday


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

HealthHealthcare

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A case of COVID-19 has been confirmed by Interior Health at Rutland Senior Secondary Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Case of COVID-19 confirmed at Rutland Senior Secondary

Interior Health lists possible exposure dates as Nov. 23-25, 27

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
First Nations Leadership Council demands justice for victims of Kelowna social worker

Union of BC Indian Chiefs calls actions of Robert Saunders nothing short of ‘complete depravity’

(City of West Kelowna)
Large West Kelowna housing development back on the table

Council considering rezoning to accommodate 184 housing units, project hopes for ~933 by completion

Kelowna videographer Noah van der Eerden details why he thinks Kelowna is the best city in his video. (Noah van der Eerden - YouTube)
Videographer shows off Kelowna’s beautiful sights in heartfelt video

Noah van der Eerden moved to Kelowna from Vancouver two years ago

Children wait using physical distancing after getting their pictures taken at picture day at St. Barnabas Catholic School during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Update: COVID-19 cases confirmed at more Kelowna schools

Interior Health announced a case has been confirmed at Chute Lake Elementary

A snow moon rises over Mt. Cheam in Chilliwack on Feb. 8, 2020. Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 is Mountain Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Dec. 6 to 12

Mountain Day, Dewey Decimal System Day and Lard Day are all coming up this week

A team of researchers at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus are spearheading a project which hopes to improve the mental health of seniors living in rural B.C. communities. (Unsplash.com image)
UBCO researchers interview caregivers for rural adults’ mental health concern

The researchers are looking for participants who live or have relatives in rural communities

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate that's ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand. (Mladen Antonov | AFP)
WEB POLL: Will you take a vaccine for COVID-19?

Doses are expected to arrive in the new year

Travis Hirlaka, Vernon
PHOTOS: Sunrise paints Okanagan skies

Residents in the Okanagan captured stunning shots of a colourful start to Saturday

Staff and students at Vernon’s Fulton Secondary School were evacuated due to an electrical short that sent one person to hospital Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Kerry Hutter photo)
Vernon high school evacuated, one person injured by electrical short

Incident at Clarence Fulton Secondary forced brief evacuation Friday afternoon

Two Canadian petitions are asking to have elected officials removed from office. (Pixabay.com)
COLUMN: Petitions show loss of faith in democratic process

Online petitions from third-party sources have taken aim at elected officials in Canada

Chinook salmon spawning in the Fraser River near Tete Jeune Cache. ((Shane Kalyn photo, property of the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance)
North-Okanagan Shuswap MP petitions government to reform salmon management

Mel Arnold tables petition to allow more angler access to non-threatened Fraser River chinook salmon

Shuswap Cider Company has applied for a licence that would accommodate a cider manufacturing facility, a tasting room and patio/lounge area at Westgate Market in Salmon Arm. (File photo)
Cider manufacturing facilty, tasting room and patio proposed for Salmon Arm

Council asked to raise a virtual glass to a licence for a cidery and amenities in Westgate Mall

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read