Married Men More Likely to Visit Doctor

Unmarried men living with a partner no more likely to seek health care

(RxWiki News) Married men are more likely to see their doctors than unmarried men, based on past research. But is the same true for unmarried men living with their partners?

Apparently not, according to a recent study comparing married and unmarried men.

In fact, men who were not married but were living with a partner were less likely to have a health care visit in the past year than married men or even unmarried men not living with a partner.

The reasons for these findings were not discussed in the report, but it appears that unmarried partners of men may have less influence than a spouse might.

"Get a medical check-up once a year."

This study was led by Stephen Blumberg, PhD, of the Division of Health Interview Statistics at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dr. Blumberg and his colleagues sought to learn whether men living with partners, but not married to them, were as likely as married men to seek health care services.

The researchers analyzed data from the 2011-2012 National Health Interview Survey, involving 24,310 men, regarding how much preventive health care services men used.

The data was broken down for men aged 18 to 64 in three groups: married men living with their spouse, unmarried men living with a partner they weren't married to, and other unmarried men.

As seen in past studies, married men had the highest rates of seeking preventive health care: 76 percent had at least one health care visit in the past year.

But living with a girlfriend or partner did not have the same influence. In fact, fewer men cohabiting with a partner saw the doctor than unmarried men living alone.

While 65 percent of umarried men not living with a partner had a health care visit in the past year, only 60 percent of unmarried men living with a partner did.

This pattern held true regardless of men's ages, though overall, older men were more likely to visit the doctor than younger men.

While 80 percent of men aged 45 to 64 had a health care visit in the past year, 64 percent of men aged 18 to 44 had a visit.

Another factor related to men's seeking health care was whether they had insurance.

Almost twice as many men (79 percent) who had insurance visited the doctor in the past year than men without health insurance (43 percent).

The pattern of more married men seeking health care only held true among those with insurance.

Among men without health insurance, the percentages of those having seen a doctor in the past year were consistent across groups.

The influence of marriage did, however, appear to extend to specific types of preventive services men should be getting.

Married men were more likely than other men to have their blood pressure read and, among those over 35, to have their blood cholesterol checked.

Married men were also more likely to be screened for type 2 diabetes if they had high blood pressure, compared to unmarried men with or without a cohabiting partner.

"The results suggest that cohabiting partners do not play a similar health-promoting role [as wives]," the researchers concluded.

"In fact, cohabiting men are a group particularly at risk of not receiving clinical preventive services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force," they wrote. "Only about one-half of men in this group for whom cholesterol and diabetes screenings are recommended had received these screenings in the past 12 months."

This study was funded by and published by the CDC on June 11. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
June 11, 2014