By Ashley Lombardo
Men are not the sex known for being emotional. But, encouraging them to get in touch with their feelings can save their lives.
Increasing positive feelings toward self-examinations can improve men’s preventative behavior, according to a new study by Carolyn R. Brown-Kramer at Nebraska Wesleyan University and Marc T. Kiviniemi at the University at Buffalo. These findings were published in the April 2015 Journal of Behavioral Medicine.
The researchers investigated the motivation behind people’s willingness to engage in self-examinations. In the study, 184 participants answered questionnaires about their thoughts, feelings and behaviors related to breast and testicular cancer.
The researchers measured participants’ feelings and beliefs about exams by having them respond to statements like “Performing a testicular self-exam makes me feel…hateful or not hateful,” and ‘‘When I think about performing a testicular self-exam, I think of it as… beneficial or not beneficial.” The study also included questions designed to measure participants’ knowledge of self-screening.
The study found that “overall, participants reported a low to moderate level of knowledge about the self-exams,” yet many had been told by their doctors that they should conduct regular self-exams.
For men, positive feelings about self-screening not only influenced their beliefs about the process, but also their behaviors. That is, participants with more positive feelings about screenings were more likely to report an intention to self-screen.
This means that health campaigns and communications from physicians that only aim to inform patients about screening without taking into account their feelings about self-exams may be missing a key piece of the puzzle.
Carolyn R. Brown-Kramer, Nebraska Wesleyan University and University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Marc T. Kiviniemi, University at Buffalo
Ashley Lombardo is a senior studying journalism at the University of Florida. Follow her on Twitter.