Medacs Healthcare

NOV 19/2012

Pharmacists have role to play in encouraging men to take responsibility

The government has expressed its desire for Brits to take more responsibility for their own health, arguing that people have a role to play in ensuring they adopt healthy behaviours.

Pharmacists can play an important part in encouraging this kind of activity by speaking to patients about ways to improve their diet and lifestyle.

Research suggests that men may be particularly lazy with regard to their own health, with many letting a problem escalate before seeking help.

A survey of 1,700 adults, conducted in August 2012 on behalf of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), revealed that nearly nine in ten men wait until they have a potentially serious problem before troubling their doctor or pharmacist.

Many also delay seeking advice if they are experiencing side-effects from medication and ask their wife or girlfriend to collect their prescriptions, meaning they do not have a face-to-face discussion with their pharmacist about their treatment.

Unsurprisingly, 23.1 per cent of men admit to having a poor understanding of medicines, compared with 15.6 per cent of women.

And men's reluctance to read instructions spills over into their medication use, with more than one in ten confessing to taking new prescription medicines without first reading the accompanying patient information leaflets.

The findings highlight significant differences in healthcare behaviours between men and women, and suggest that people in pharmacist jobs may be able to improve the situation by reminding men to read up about their prescription medicines and to seek timely advice if they have any concerns.

Mike Holden, chief executive of the NPA, says: "We urge men to work in partnership with health professionals to get a firmer grip on their long-term wellbeing.

"With the help of their local pharmacy team, men can do more to stay well, not just get treatment when they are sick. A face-to-face discussion with the pharmacist can be the key to safer and more effective medicines use."

There are also concerns that men are less likely to sign up for wellbeing schemes, such as the NHS Stop Smoking Service, than their female counterparts.

More must therefore be done to encourage men to seek expert advice from their pharmacist, according to Mr Holden.

He says: "The challenge is for us in pharmacy is to spread the message to more men about the benefits of using medicines properly and make them aware of the free, professional advice and support available, which also involves healthy lifestyle advice."

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