Men's experiences of physical exams and cancer screening tests: a qualitative study

Prev Med. 2005 Jun;40(6):628-35. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.10.021.


Background: American men have lower overall rates of cancer screening than women. This study was designed to elicit men's health care experiences and knowledge of testicular, prostate, and colorectal cancer (CRC) screening.

Methods: Fifty-three men participated in eight physician-led semistructured focus groups in Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Four groups (ages 18-35; N = 20) discussed testicular cancer screening. Four groups of older men (ages 40-79; N = 33) discussed prostate and colorectal cancer screening.

Results: Men in this study prefer physicians who establish interpersonal relationships with male patients. Lack of explanations during physical exams resulted in negative experiences. Men were eager to learn more about their health, but commonly complained that they received neither appropriate cancer screening nor sufficient explanations from their physicians. When PSA screening was offered, discussion was often inadequate. Although men expressed interest in participating in the PSA decision, sole responsibility for this complex decision was seen as undesirable. These men desired more discussion and better sources of health information during medical encounters.

Conclusions: Clinician attention to communication, relationship building, patient education, and consideration for patient privacy and modesty are important for the care of male patients especially with sensitive exams and topics important to men's cancer screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colonoscopy / standards
  • Colonoscopy / trends
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Education / standards*
  • Health Education / trends
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / standards*
  • Mass Screening / trends
  • Middle Aged
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • New Hampshire
  • Patient Participation
  • Physical Examination / standards*
  • Physical Examination / trends
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Rhode Island
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Factors