My role


Internet is health buddy of choice for men

New research into the internet has debunked a number of myths about young men and their supposed lack of interest in their health.

The research by US healthcare marketing information and services firm Manhattan Research found that far from not being interested in their health, nearly one in five men (19%) under 34 looked for health information on the internet. In older men the figures were even higher.

The traditional assumption has been that men use the internet to find out about fitness and what the researchers euphemistically call 'virility' rather than health. While these are important topics for some men, in fact allergies were the most-searched-for topic among 18-34s, cancer among 35s-55s and high blood pressure among the over 55s.

Of particular interest to health professionals is the finding that nearly half of men 18-34 would like to communicate with their physician by email. In other words, it's not that men don't want to talk to a doctor, it's just that they'd prefer to talk to them in a convenient way.

'Although reaching men has traditionally been difficult for the healthcare industry, the internet, which provides consumers with the ability to gather information about sensitive health topics in a less conspicuous way, may be the key to reaching men and educating them about health risks and concerns,' says Ashley Wendus, Senior Analyst at Manhattan Research. 'It offers confidentiality and convenience - two prime concerns for men - in a highly accessible resource.'

One might expect Mr Wendus to say that. His firm sells health-related internet services. Indeed, they sell them so vigorously that they woudn't make the full details of their findings available to the MHF unless we paid.

'This research reinforces the MHF's anecdotal experience,' said Jim Pollard, editor of the MHF's websites. 'Men want information on all sorts of health topics but they want it to be accessible and confidential. The trouble is that this research also showed that the top sites visited by US men of all age groups for health information are WebMD, Yahoo Health and MSN Health where they're not necessarily going to find the sort of the stuff they're after. They visit these sites because they're well-known not because they're the most suitable. We need to ensure men know about sites targeted particularly at men such as our malehealth site.'

Page created on September 27th, 2004

Page updated on December 1st, 2009