UroToday.com (Truckee, CA.) Urologists are accustomed to see older men in their waiting rooms. Less often do they see young men. According to one published report, almost a third of men report not having a primary care physician, a circumstance widely differing from healthcare use patterns of woman both young and old.
Lack of healthcare and an overall lack of engagement among American men is contributing to a large-scale health deficit in the U.S., according to reports. Men have higher mortality rates for nine of the top ten causes of death. Men also die five years earlier than women, on average.
Several initiatives that are being spearheaded by members of the urology community are aimed at encouraging men, and especially young men, to be more proactive in safeguarding their health, with actions such as recommendations for regular screenings and health care checks.
Speaking with UroToday about aspects of this issue, and highlighting interventions on behalf of men’s health, is Dr. Michael Lutz, President of the Michigan Men’s Health Foundation. Dr. Lutz is in clinical practice at the Michigan Institute of Urology, and is an outspoken advocate and communicator on the national stage on behalf of men’s health.
Q: Dr. Lutz, you are a co-author along with Dr. Rovito*, on a recently published paper with recommendations for including TSE in a standard of care—in disagreement with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which discourages this screening. Could you comment on this?
The issue regarding testicular self-examination opens up an entire can of worms in regard to what are the exact recommendations and what regulating bodies are involved in the thought and discussion processes.
As we know the USPSTF has decided that TSE deserved a recommendation of “D” which is to not recommend it. In contradistinction, the AUA Men’s Health Checklist believes there is a role for men’s testicular examination.
Many urologists believe that testicular self-examination is essentially a harmless test to bring in young men who are at risk for developing testicular cancer, and who are typically lost to the health care system for some of their young adult years, when they are healthy and not having regular medical check-ups. These men, between 20 and 45 years of age, really do need to be engaged… to be more aware of their own health and well-being.
Q: You personally, I understand, have taken part in a recent event to highlight men’s health issues at a national level…
On January 8, 2016, a dialogue on men’s health on was held at the White House at the request of the Men’s Health Network in combination with representatives from the Department of] Health and Human Services. Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson joined U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and White House Director of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli. These individuals, in addition to industry leaders of men’s health across the US, participated in this Summit to discuss and create awareness, and engage individuals who had a role and involvement in men’s advocacy here in the United States.
Q: Presenters at this event included representatives from the National Football League in addition to healthcare technology companies. Could you describe this activity and its objectives?
I was fortunate to be on the panel, along with leaders in the NFL, the Denver Broncos, the Green Bay Packers, and the Washington Redskins, to present on the role of partnership with the NFL in men’s advocacy. [The question we asked was:] How can we engage men in a way that may be different from what we are using at present, to try to create a new paradigm of care?
Although we were looking at the issue from different perspectives, we all had a common goal [in mind]: improving the health of urban males, and how to step up the care and awareness of men in these settings.
Men between 20 and 45 years of age really do need to be engaged… to be more aware of their own health and well-being.
Q: Men’s Health Week has a history, I understand, involves participation on a worldwide scale, and has an official recognition in the U.S…
Men’s Health Week is celebrated all around the world. This event was signed in to law by President Bill Clinton in 1992. Today, while it is recognized, it is not “embraced.”
Our goal at the Men’s Health Foundation has been to try to discover and create ways [to promote] a greater embracing of the goal among men and this community--to try to improve the perceptions men have of the role of health so that it will become their reality—and to try to change the paradigm of care of men.
This year Men’s Health Week will be held from June 13 through June 19th
Q: What is “Blue Monday” in relation to the activities and goals of Men’s Health Week?
“Blue Monday” is designated as the first day of Men’s Health Week. Our hope is that this year it will be celebrated all the way from here in Detroit, where we have a partnership with General Motors as well as the Spirit of Detroit and other organizations in Detroit—to the White House and in other parts of the country. Last year, the first Blue Monday was celebrated across the US and Canada, the UK and Australia.
As a co-initiative, Blue Monday is one day when non-profit men’s organizations can raise money to ensure that the men’s health community gets the message. We have developed a [crowd funding] initiative to stimulate non-profit organizations that are also involved in men’s health advocacy, to join us to raise money for their own foundations. We have created prize money for those foundations that raise the most money for their own organizations—to celebrate Blue Monday not only in their local areas but across the country.
It’s our hope that eventually Blue Monday will take on a life of its own and will have its own special meaning within each of their communities around the country. Blue Monday might mean exercising more that day, or getting a physical that day, or making sure that health of their spouse or their children is ensured by doing something special, as a member of a family or as a family all together.
Q: There is a precedent for activism on behalf of men’s health in Detroit that you and your colleagues have spearheaded…
On an annual basis, beginning in 2011, our Michigan Institute of Urology (MIU) Men’s Health Event has been held each fall at Ford Field. There, approximately 1,000 men come to be screened, evaluated, and to receive follow-up care for any diagnoses that are made. I was very fortunate to present the information we have gleaned from all of our Michigan Institute of Urology (MIU) health events [in the Detroit community].
Q: Did you gain any insights about men’s frame of mind in regard to their own health—separate from healthcare seeking practices and habits?
One insight medical professionals made was that men’s perceptions of their own health, when they were asked, appeared to reflect reality. When men were asked questions such as ‘How do you feel?’; ‘Do you feel younger than your age or older than your age?’, ‘Do you think you look younger than your age or older than your age?’ the men who said they felt younger than their age also looked younger than their age. They exercised; did not eat fast food more than three times a week; prayed regularly; were sexually active; had normal blood pressures. When asked, about their daily habits, all individuals who reported good health habits said they believed that they were going to live longer than 80 years of age. In this example, there is no question that perception and reality are correlated.
If men realize that having a normal blood pressure and eating the right foods, and exercising regularly truly have a benefit—truly have a payoff in the end—and you can show the payoff by looking at complementary populations within the urban core, then perhaps these individuals will show other men how to improve their own health quality.
Q: Is this event, or others like it—to address men’s health—likely to be repeated in your local community or more broadly?
The Men’s Health Event will hopefully be held on an ongoing, annual, basis. One of one our goals is to create a self-sustaining event, eventually developing similar events around the country in partnerships with other NFL teams, so that we can help create healthier communities around the country.
It does appear that there is going to be some mechanism of action that will be implemented down the road to try to create a men’s health advocacy program, whether in partnership with the NFL or other professional sports teams, to try to better understand and improve the way men are seeking out health care and are engaged in health care.
Official recognition of a “National Men’s Health Week” came after passage by the U.S. Congress. On May 31, 1994, when the event was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
White House Dialogue on Men’s Health. At: www.DialogueonMensHealth.com - Accessed March 8, 2016
Watch a webcast of the White House Dialogue on Men’s Health, held January 8, 2016, at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nuke4txkQck
* Michael J. Rovito, PhD, CHES, FMHI, Assistant Professor of Health Sciences, University of Central Florida
Written by: Barbara Jones for UroToday