My role


Health online – opportunity or danger

To mark National Men's Health Week, MPs and Peers gathered to hear about using the internet to improve men's health.

Many men are reluctant users of traditional health services, such as GPs and pharmacies, and do not always respond to mainstream health awareness campaigns. However, most men care about their health and do respond to messages when the information is presented in formats that appeal to them.

Dr Charles Gutteridge, National Clinical Director for Informatics at the Department of Health told the meeting about how an individual's technology could link with NHS technology. For example a smartphone's activity app linking with medical records.

Dr Gutteridge welcomed the Men's Health Forum's Get a Man Online campaign to help men use the internet for health adding that as well as this being an opportunity to communicate health ideas it is also a great way to involve men in comparative effectiveness research.

Chief exec of the Men's Health Forum, Peter Baker, said that in many ways the Forum's campaign is just an extension of earlier work to improve men's access to health services, for example by encouraging health professionals to use sports venues and workplaces to reach men. He called on GPs to offer online booking of appointments and to make more use of the phone and internet for consultations. He added that enquiries sent through the charity's health information website,, show that there is a demand but that they are unable to meet it.

He continued that there more men are using the internet for health but that it is still a minority who do so. He said he wanted 50% of men to use the internet for health by 2013. However, 330,000 men buy fake medicines, mostly over the internet. This is why much of the Get a Man Online campaign looks at how to find reliable health information online. You can read the text of Peter Baker's speech.

Dr Seema Jani is a GP who works in a traditional practice, in a hospital's urgent referals clinic and on the ManMOT website. The website provides an online chat facility with GPs and counsellors on Monday evenings and on every night of National Men's Health Week.

Several charities work with ManMOT but the consultation service is only possible because it is funded by Pfizer.

Men visiting the website most commonly discuss issues which they might find difficult to talk about such as mental health and sexual health issues. Many of the men who use Man MOT simply need reassurance that the issue they are experiencing is nothing out of the ordinary. Dr Jani felt was why men are using the service in numbers because it offers confidentiality and anonymity.  When needed, men are signposted on to an appropriate service – often their GP, however pharmacists can also provide health advice and many men are not aware of this. 

Page created on June 16th, 2011

Page updated on June 16th, 2011