Married men are more likely to go to the doctor, here’s why

May 23, 2017

Do married men take better care of themselves?

Health statistics say they go to the doctor more often than single men – and it may be because they were encouraged by their spouses to get regular checkups (sound familiar?).

According to a National Health Interview Survey report, married men are more likely to get health screenings than their unwedded brethren, including men who live with their significant others.

Researchers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who compiled responses from over 24,000 men, say they’re not sure why, but they have some interesting theories. 

“Perhaps wives have more influence than girlfriends,” suggested Stephen Blumberg of the CDC, lead author of the study. Co-author Joe Blumberg added that live-in girlfriends “may be more reluctant than wives to ask personal health questions or prod men to see a doctor.”

This finding fits in with speculation that cohabiters tend to be in short-term relationships, and married couples have been together long enough to feel comfortable with personal matters. Kelly Musick, associate professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell University, put it more bluntly, saying that that type of "nagging" takes longer to develop in relationships.

Additionally, Joe Blumberg theorized that single guys try to stay fit and healthy because they wish to be attractive to prospective mates; however, they may slack off about seeing a doctor after they move in with a girlfriend. After they move in together, “now they’re going to have to explain why they went to the doctor,” and they still aren’t completely comfortable sharing such personal details, he said.

Another possibility raised by the report is that married men feel obligated to stay healthy to provide for their family; that simply having a spouse stirs a deeper sense of responsibility.

Another factor to consider is the economics. Married men, especially older in age, tend to have more financial resources and are more likely to have health insurance. Whereas, many people with limited means will forego health screenings if they feel they can’t afford a doctor visit. And it may be that younger individuals who’ve had fewer health issues may not see the need for checkups anyway.

Whatever the reason for these findings, they shouldn’t come as a total surprise. Studies have shown that married men live longer and enjoy better health overall. When people get health screenings regularly, problems can be detected and treated early. Dangerous conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes can be headed off before they can become deadly.

And if it takes a little gentle prodding from a wife for a man to get a physical checkup – it’s still a good thing.

Regular health screenings are important for men and women of all ages. To schedule an appointment, see a Swedish primary care provider.