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Nearly half of men prefer virtual doctor visits when discussing sexual health, Cleveland Clinic survey finds

CLEVELAND, Ohio - When it's time to discuss sexual health with their doctors, nearly half of all men prefer to do it in a virtual visit to avoid embarrassment, a new national Cleveland Clinc survey showed.Nearly half of men prefer virtual doctor visits when discussing sexual health, Cleveland Clinic survey finds

About 44% of men surveyed said they prefer discussing sexual health issues with a doctor online or over the phone. Younger generations are more open to virtual visits, with 41% of Millennials and 36% of Generation Z adults preferring an online visit, compared to 9% of baby boomers.

The survey is part of the Clinic's sixth annual educational campaign, "MENtion It," which addresses the fact that men often do not "MENtion" health issues or get screenings to detect them early. Survey results were released Wednesday.

This year's survey focuses on the barriers to care that impact the ability of men of color to get health care, and the cultural differences surrounding discussions of men's health issues such as infertility or erectile dysfunction.

The online survey showed:

  • One-quarter of men of color (26%) and 20% of white men said they visit their physician less than once a year or never.
  • 66% of all men have used digital health services in the past 12 months.
  • Roughly half (52%) of men of color and 37% of white men said it his hard dto get time off work to visit a doctor.
  • 44% of all men said they prefer to speak with a doctor online or over the phone when discussing sexual health issues, because they are too embarrassed to do it in person.
  • 29% of all men said they would prefer to have an online visit with a doctor/healthcare professional rather than an in-person visit.
  • When discussing sexual health issues, 44% of all men said they prefer to speak with a doctor online or over the phone because they are too embarrassed to do it in person.
  • More than half of Hispanic men (56%) said they prefer discussing sexual health issues with a doctor online.

This year's MENtion It campaign aims bring more awareness to health issues specific to men of color. African Americans are six times more likely to develop kidney failure from hypertension. African American men are also more likely to have the more dangerous types of prostate cancer. Hispanic men are more likely than white men to have diabetes and diabetes-related kidney failure, and to die from it.

"These (survey) findings have helped us understand better ways of reaching men of color, such as adding a Hispanic Men's Health Clinic at Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital, a location with a large Hispanic population," Dr. Georges Haber, chair of urology in the Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, said in a statement. "Our hope is to continue educating men that early detection through preventive health screenings and checkups are essential to diagnosing many of these conditions while they are still in early treatable and curable stages."

The online survey, distributed in May, included a representative sample of 1,000 American males 18 years of age and older, with additional oversamples for demographics representing Hispanic, Black/African American, Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American/Alaskan Native men.

"Given the fact that we are still very much in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to understand how virtual healthcare may play a bigger role for men, and particularly for men of color who are disproportionately affected by various healthcare disparities," Dr. Eric Klein, chairman of Cleveland Clinic's Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute, said in a statement. "We found that just getting to the doctor is a challenge for some men, and that other men find it easier to open up to their doctor over the computer screen versus in person."

The Clinic went from 37,000 virtual visits in 2019 to 1.2 million in 2020. The health system is open for in-person care but continues to see the trend toward increased use of virtual healthcare in 2021, it said in a release.

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