Monday, November 17, 2008

Why men won't go to high-street pharmacists

The RPSGB - the professional organisation for high-street pharmacists - is claiming male machismo is responsible for 40,000 deaths a year. They cite their research showing that 59% of blokes only seek medical advice if they are ‘very ill or in great pain’. A lot of women will be sceptical of that in the manflu season.

Even if we are as reluctant as the survey suggests, is it really the result of machismo? One in seven men were honest enough to admit that they didn't go the GP as they were afraid of what they might be told. Feeling scared and admitting it are not exactly macho traits and the real number of men who feel like this is surely much higher.

The RSPGB solution to this is to tell us 'to snap out of the ‘big boys don’t cry’ mind-set and start taking health problems seriously.' Now I'm a big supporter of the RSPGB's work and share their view that getting more blokes to use pharmacists is a good way of overcoming our reluctance to go our GPs but I'm not convinced that shouting at people is the best way to get them into your shop.

The main reason men don't consult their pharmacist as much as we would like is that pharmacists still aren't very male-friendly. Few make it obvious - through a simple poster, for example - that they offer health advice and few make it obvious that they are places that welcome men on an equal basis to women. My local store smells like a perfume factory and is packed with products and posters aimed at women. From the street, it is virtually impossible to see a single product aimed at men.

Yes, men are partly responsible for their own health problems - that's hardly headline news - but should shops be blaming their potential customers for not using them or looking to get their marketing sorted?

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