EMBARGOED UNTIL MONDAY 5th NOVEMBER: Men should take firmer grip on medicines and wellbeing, say pharmacists

Men are being urged to actively manage their wellbeing, following publication of new statistics by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) which point to sharp gender differences in healthcare behaviours. 

Nearly 9 in 10 men say they don’t like to trouble a doctor or a pharmacist unless they have a serious problem, they delay seeking advice if they have side effects from medicines, and they often get their wives to collect their prescriptions for them, which means they’re less likely to have a face-to-face discussion with pharmacy staff and to benefit from lifestyle advice.  Furthermore, fewer men than women take part in wellbeing schemes like the NHS stop smoking service.

The NPA survey of 1700 UK adults shows:  

  • More men than women admit that their understanding of medicines is poor (23.1% against 15.6 women)
  • Men are twice as likely than women to take a new prescription medicine without first reading the patient information leaflet or seeking professional advice (10.9% of men against 5.1 women)
  • A third of men (31%) get their partner to collect their prescription medicines
  • Men tend to rely on their female partners to stock the household medicines cabinet
  • 60% of men would suffer with a side effect of medicines for more than a week before seeking advice
  • Nearly nine in ten men say they don’t like to trouble a doctor or pharmacist unless they have a “serious problem”.  37% of people – men and women - worry about taking time off work to seek professional advice when they are ill.

During Ask Your Pharmacist Week (5-12 November), thousands of pharmacies are displaying ‘Two Small Steps for Man’ window posters, encouraging men to step inside the pharmacy and enquire about the free NHS support available.

Mike Holden, chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), said:

We urge men to work in partnership with health professionals to get a firmer grip on their long term well being.  With the help of their local pharmacy team, men can do more to stay well, not just get treatment when they are sick.  A face-to-face discussion with the pharmacist can be the key to safer and more effective medicines use.   Most pharmacies now have consultation areas, where you can talk with the pharmacist without being overheard.”   

“Pharmacies are well placed to reach out to men, because they are generally accessible and informal – you can get expert advice without an appointment.  So I am delighted that so many pharmacies are making a special effort to reach out to men during Ask Your Pharmacist Week 2012.”

“The experience with the NHS New Medicine Service in England shows that men will engage in a dialogue about their medicines if they can see that it will address an immediate and clearly identifiable need.  Nearly half of people accessing the NMS – a free advice service for people taking a new medicine for a long term condition - are men.

“The challenge is for us in pharmacy is to spread the message to more men about the benefits of using medicines properly and make them aware of the free, professional advice and support available which also involves healthy lifestyle advice.”

The full NPA report is available at www.askyourpharmacist.co.uk

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Notes to editors:

1.       The survey was carried out from 17th August – 24th August 2012.  2.       Ask Your Pharmacist Week is part of the NPA’s ongoing work to showcase community pharmacy as an expert clinical and public health resource, as well as an effective medicines supply service3.       The NPA is the UK’s leading trade body for community pharmacy.  Its core purpose is to represent, support and protect the interests of all community pharmacy across the UK.4.       For further information, please contact the NPA Press Office on 01727 795901 or 07920 203051, or email s.white@npa.co.uk