Understand the Type of Interaction Men Value When Visiting Their General Practitioner

by Hannah Punitha on Dec 7 2008 3:50 PM

Humour, empathy and a frank approach are what men are looking for in their GP, according to a new study of communication between Australian men and their doctors published in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.

Mr James Smith, and colleagues from the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health at The University of Adelaide, found, as part of their work on the Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study (FAMAS), that the core qualities men value in their GP include a direct approach, demonstrable competence, thoughtful use of humour, empathy and prompt resolution of health issues.

“There has been scant attention paid to . . . the type of interaction men value when visiting their general practitioner,” said the authors.

Mr Smith said the men interviewed in the study favoured a concise, direct and matter-of-fact style of communication.

Respondents placed a high value on a trusting relationship and both a direct and directive approach – “being told what to do” regarding their health.

Mr Smith said the use of the terms such as “he’s a good bloke” and “he knows me very, very well” indicate the value placed on respect and trust.

“Humour was appreciated as a tool to lessen the perceived seriousness of consultations, reduce tension and facilitate communication.”

Mr Smith said the adoption of these qualities would enhance communication with, and care of, men in primary care settings.

While the authors acknowledge that these findings may not be representative of all men living in Australia, they believe these core qualities have the potential to influence training programs targeted at health professionals.

According to the authors, strategies to enhance the skills of GPs in this area might include training that acknowledges the value of listening to men’s lay perspectives, development of resources to help GPs engage men in discussion about their health, and incorporating these qualities when planning preventative primary care interventions for men.