Gordon invited to consult at White House for dialogue on men's health

Derrick Gordon, PhD, has joined a national effort to encourage all men to see their doctors.

Gordon went to Washington, D.C., on January 8 to participate in the White House Dialogue on Men’s Health, a landmark meeting with the ultimate aim of helping men live healthier and longer.

The event featured speeches by Broderick Johnson, White House Cabinet Secretary and Chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force; U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; and Michael Botticelli, White House Director of National Drug Control Policy.

Gordon, assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale and director of Research, Policy and Program on Male Development at The Consultation Center in New Haven, said he enjoyed participating with other experts in the discussion, which sought to highlight the state of men’s health and to talk about ways to get men more engaged in preventive care.

The bottom line, according to Gordon, is that men don’t see their primary care doctors as frequently as women, and that must change if men want to detect health problems while they can still be treated.

“Men tend to minimize our health experiences unless it is like a screaming red alert,” he said. “We tend not to go to the doctor.”

Gordon has a particular interest in helping men who are “on the fringes,” including men who are transitioning from incarceration.

Men tend to minimize our health experiences unless it is like a screaming red alert. We tend not to go to the doctor.

Derrick Gordon, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry

A healthy transition to the community starts with a healthy mind and body, he said, but he is troubled by trends that show men do not pay enough attention to their mental and physical health.

More women than men have enrolled in health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But even with insurance, men don’t visit the doctor for “well” visits as frequently as women do.

“Men, in general as a group, tend to access health care less than women,” Gordon said. “When you look at the life longevity of men versus women, women live longer.”

He said the White House conference was a good way to launch a national dialogue about the need for men to access health care. Each participant was asked to commit to a specific action he or she will take to raise awareness and improve men’s health.

“The idea was to raise the profile of men’s health and to bring folks around the room who have an interest in this area,” he said. “The challenge we have is that I don’t know that we fully understand all the reasons why men don’t seek care. It’s the beginning of hopefully more discussions.”

Another meeting may be held in June, during Men’s Health Month, but in the meantime attendees like Gordon will promote the need for men to see their doctors.

One solution, Gordon said, might be to enlist the help of women to get men in for yearly checkups.

“Female partners should be used as allies in helping to encourage men to pursue or access preventive care,” he said.

The presidential campaign creates another possible forum for discussion, he said.

This article was submitted by Christopher S Gardner on February 17, 2016.