Men in North quicker to seek health advice

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Northern men are far more likely to seek advice or treatment for minor illnesses than men living in the South of England.

Northern men are far more likely to seek advice or treatment for minor illnesses than men living in the South of England.

More than half of men aged under 40 in the North visited a pharmacy for health advice at least once a month, compared with only one-third in the South, according to a study commissioned by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

The findings, based on interviews with 250 men, show that northern men are still more embarrassed than their southern counterparts about discussing sexual health issues with a woman pharmacist. Nearly one-third preferred to speak to a male pharmacist, compared with only 17 per cent of young men from the South.

Previous research has shown that men seek professional advice only in the late stage of illnesses, making it more difficult to treat them successfully. The Government has responded with several health education campaigns, such as the recent one on testicular cancer, to improve men's health awareness.

The report, published today, also shows that almost one- third of British men under 40 years old tolerate symptoms they believe are not serious, hoping they will go away, instead of seeking advice or treatment from a pharmacist.

While nearly 60 per cent of women previously surveyed visited pharmacies at least once a month, for men in this study the figure was 41 per cent. Some 11 per cent hadn't visited a pharmacy in the past year.

Roger Odd, of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, who has been a pharmacist for more than 20 years, said men should start looking after their health. "Men owe it to themselves to take the time to look after their health. The first step for minor conditions is to see a pharmacist," he said.

Mr Odd believes northern men are more likely to go to the pharmacy for advice because they fit it into their regular Saturday out in the local town or city. "It is more in tune with the lifestyle and environment in the North of England," he said.

"Young men come into the shop in twos or threes for advice on a Saturday afternoon. They do not jibe with each other but have their friends there for moral support," he said. "If they do talk to a female assistant they tend to choose the motherly ones rather than a young girl," he said.

David Bull, presenter of Watchdog, the consumer affairs television programme, said that young men were still behaving badly when it came to their health. "From my days as a practising doctor, I know that most men are guilty of a macho tendency to shirk responsibility for our own health," he said.

"We think it is 'uncool' to be seen caring about our health, especially if we perceive the symptoms to be minor."

Convenience played a big part in the decision of men to visit a pharmacy, with almost 80 per cent saying they did so because it was near to their home or work.