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Article posted: 7/8/2013 5:22 AM

Convincing a stubborn man to get to the doctor

How do you help the men you love overcome the obstacles and get to the doctor? We checked with several experts. Some responses:

Get the facts: "Education is the only answer," said psychologist Jim O'Neil of the University of Connecticut. "Men need to know that there is much they can do over the lifespan that allows them to live more comfortable lives in the older years. Many men get into their 60s and 70s and regret their lack of self-care -- poor diet, lack of exercise and risky living."

Motivation: "When a young guy, 25, 28 years old, comes in for a physical, I always ask, 'Did a young friend or family member die or did a wife, girlfriend or partner make you come in?' It's usually one of those two reasons. Some people also get health-insurance discounts or rewards from employers for getting an annual physical," said Ohio State family physician Randy Wexler.

Start young: The University of South Florida's Dr. Francisco Fernandez said parents may be able to bring about change in future generations of men. "You only have to look at a playground. When a girl falls down, she gets nurturing and comforting attention. If a boy falls down, it's not uncommon for a parent to say, 'That doesn't hurt,' even though the kid's face is saying, 'Yes it does!'"

Couple power: Psychologist Glenn Good of the University of Florida said there's a reason so much of men's-health services are marketed to women. "Women and men's partners are often in the best position to educate and encourage men" to take care of their health. Not doing so increases the likelihood of becoming prone to injury, heart attacks, substance abuse, isolation and death, Good said.

Put your foot down: Dr. Jorge Marcet, USF Health's division director for colon and rectal surgery at Tampa General Hospital, wanted his aging father to have a colonoscopy. He refused -- until Marcet told him that their Saturday-night dinners together would cease. "He has come over to our house for Saturday dinner for more than 20 years. Of course, I wasn't going to turn my father away at the door, but I made the point. He had the procedure and lived to be 91."

But step off the soapbox: "Nagging is never a good idea," said professor and psychologist Richard Eisler of Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg. "I think helping men see that being healthy is more attractive and more masculine is part of the answer. How to accomplish that is not going to be easy."

-- Irene Maher

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