Pharmacies Can Give Advice to Men Trying to Be Healthy; MEN ARE NOTORIOUSLY RELUCTANT TO TAKE ADVICE ABOUT THEIR GENERAL HEALTH UNLESS THEY ARE UNWELL. RAJ AGGARWAL EXAMINES WHETHER LOCAL PHARMACIES COULD HELP
WE ARE constantly informed about factors that affect our health and why there are differences in the health of people living in one part of Wales compared to another.
While we rightly look at issues like income levels, social issues and access to services the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) believes we ignore one of the key factors - whether a patient is male or female.
While many regard differences between the health of the sexes as inevitable because they are the result of human biology, there are, perhaps, other factors at play.
Men clearly think and behave differently when it comes to their health and, as a result, health services need to be designed to take account of these differences.
The vision of the NPA is to see Wales' pharmacies become a network of local health and wellbeing centres. There are more than 700 pharmacies in Wales and they are the most accessible part of the health service. But despite their accessibility, pharmacies and other health centres, are significantly underused by men.
Research has shown that issues such as accessibility, flexibility and informality are important factors for men.
And a recent market research report found men trust their pharmacist to provide information that would be reliable and of good quality and that they would quickly refer to a doctor if they felt they needed to.
But the same report also highlighted that some older men are less accepting of the idea of seeking help from a pharmacist and viewed visiting their doctor as their right.
The NPA believe that this will change over time as men begin to recognise and accept pharmacies' role in improving our health.
Men perceive the word "health" as being able to do what you want to, according to the Men's Health Forum. There is also a general agreement that it means feeling well; having a sense of wellbeing; knowing your body; being the correct weight and not getting out of breath.
But the meaning of health differs across age groups. Younger men are concerned about fitness and looking healthy - watching their diet, being active - and on the whole did not think about being ill.
But older men are more concerned about freedom from illness and being able to carry out the functions of their daily lives, the forum found.
The poor health profile of men is well documented but is worth repeating. The average life expectancy of a man is 76.6 years in the UK compared to 81 for women - these figures vary across Wales.
Men are more likely to be obese. It is estimated that by 2025 only 13% of men will have a healthy body mass index.
The bad news doesn't stop there as men are more likely to smoke and consume unhealthy levels of alcohol compared to their female counterparts. …