In Practice
8:00 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Tying The Knot Often Leads To Better Health

Credit Nicolas Fuentes/Flickr.com

Ditmire: Dr. Stephen Blumberg is a researcher at the National Center for Health Statistics. His dad Joe is executive director of the Men's Health and Wellness Center in Atlanta. One night over dinner… 

Blumberg: We were talking about men's health as we often do. He was sharing anecdotes about how wives and daughters and mothers have an influence on men and their behavior’s seeking health care. 

Ditmire: Stephen knew he had some data on the topic. 

Blumberg: In this study, we found that not only did married men go to the doctor more often than cohabiting men, but married men were more likely to have had their blood pressure checked; their blood cholesterol checked; and to have had a fasting test for high blood sugar or diabetes.

Ditmire: Which made them ask….

Blumberg: What is it about being married as opposed to having a girl friend that influences one's health care behaviors to the extent that it does? 

Ditmire: Blumberg thinks it has something to do with a man’s vulnerability. 

Blumberg: Men prefer to think they are going to live forever or that they are invincible. Husbands may be more willing to talk about such vulnerability with wives and wives may be more comfortable pushing the issues and talking to men about their vulnerabilities. Because of that, wives may also be more willing to make the doctors appointments for their husbands and push them to going to those appointments. 

Ditmire: Whereas guys with girlfriends really don’t want to blow that image.

Blumberg: And girlfriends may be more reluctant to challenge the guys' self image as strong and macho and invulnerable. 

Ditmire: But that short term feel good behavior could lead to long term bad health.

Blumberg: We know from this that spouses may play an important role in encouraging husbands to seek health care, particularly preventive health care. 

Ditmire: Is there any chance that since this report came out that you know of any men who were cohabitating that have now proposed?

Blumberg: Haha; no, I don’t. 

Dr. Blumberg is the Associate Director for Science at the National Center for Health Statistics