Addressing one’s health can be scary, but avoiding it altogether can be deadly. All patients should feel comfortable and unburdened to call a triage nurse. The biggest challenge is often getting the patient to make the first call because it depends on their understanding and sense of their symptoms and their overall level of motivation to seek help. Educating patients to call triage nurses is an important step in helping them.
When it comes to men’s health, people sometimes joke that men take better care of their cars or their favorite electronics than their bodies. In a national survey of 1,000 men, more than 80 percent could rattle off the make and model of their first car—but only half could recall their last doctor’s appointment. The life expectancy for men is at least five years less than it is for women. One of the biggest reasons for this statistic is that women are much more proactive about their health than men.
Here are the top excuses men often make to avoid going to the doctor and why telephone triage nurses can help with this patient population.
Excuse #1: “Why should I see a doctor. I feel fine.”
The reality is that you may feel fine, but the numbers don’t lie: more men than women are diagnosed with diabetes and kidney disease. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 12.1 percent of US men have circulatory diseases like coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Excuse #2: “I’m busy.”
A recent survey by Orlando Health found that the top excuse men make to avoid scheduling annual appointments with their primary care physician, is that they are too busy. When it comes to finding a doctor or booking an appointment, time isn’t an excuse. Scheduling online or on the phone usually takes just a few minutes, and most routine checkups can be done in a lunch break or less.
Excuse #3: “It will get better on its own.”
The old “ignore-it-and-it-will-go-away” approach may have worked when you were a child, but beware when it comes to your health now.
Excuse #4: “I’m afraid of what I will find out.”
One of the most common excuses men make is that they are afraid of finding out something might be wrong with them.
Excuse #5: “I don’t like tests.”
No one likes being poked and prodded, but getting screened for certain conditions could save your life. They may be uncomfortable with specific body exams such as prostate checks.
Excuse #6: “It’s embarrassing.”
There are a lot of health questions that are awkward to discuss, but it’s essential for your doctor to know your entire health history, including previous sexual encounters, to provide the best care.
Silent conditions like hypertension and colon cancer have few—or no—symptoms, meaning you may not know if you have them.
What Can Telephone Triage Nurses Do?
Men often rely on a friend or relative to provide comfort and reassurance. It is essential for them to seek affirmation from others and a triage nurse line is a great way to get help from an educated professional rather than other, less reliable sources. Providing patients with a qualified telephone triage nurse prevents these patients from improperly self-diagnosing and ensures that they get the care they need. Having a confidential triage line can encourage them to reach out about a symptom that is concerning and get them connected with the proper provider to prevent adverse long term outcomes.
A patient must feel that the nurse understands their condition and has their best interests at heart. From the very first encounter, communication plays a big part in building trust between the nurse and the patient. Patients have very few “wants” from their healthcare providers – they want to feel respected, be heard, cared about, and included as a team player in their treatment plan.
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