Are men shortchanged on health? Perspective on health care utilization and health risk behavior in men and women in the United States

Int J Clin Pract. 2010 Mar;64(4):475-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-1241.2009.02290.x.


Background: Significant gender disparities exist in life expectancy and major disease morbidity. There is a need to understand the major issues related to men's health that contributes to these significant disparities. It is hypothesized that, high-risk behaviors and low utilization of all and preventive health services contribute to the higher mortality and the higher and earlier morbidity in men.

Methods: Data was collected from CDC: Health United States, 2007; Health Behavior of Adults: United States 2002-04; and National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2005 Summary.

Results: In United States, men are more likely to be regular and heavy alcohol drinkers, heavier smokers who are less likely to quit, non-medical illicit drug users, and are more overweight compared to women. Men are less likely to utilize health care visits to doctor's offices, emergency departments (ED), and physician home visits than women. They are also less likely to make preventive care, hospice care, dental care visits, and have fewer hospital discharges and shorter hospital stays than women.

Conclusions: High-risk behaviors and low utilization of health services may contribute to the lower life expectancy in men. In the context of public health, behavioral and preventive interventions are needed to reduce the gender disparity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Dental Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Hospice Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Men's Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult