According to Dr McIntosh, mental health is another primary concern for many of his male patients. It’s an issue that has been exacerbated further by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People have been facing a lot more stress at home and work. I know there are a lot of blokes who struggle with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. I think the pandemic has really brought these issues to the forefront.”
Dr McIntosh works in the JCU College of Medicine and Dentistry to equip medical graduates to pursue a career in General Practice. His focus includes teaching hands-on practical skills to undergraduate students, including the skills needed to engage male patients and conduct sensitive or intimate examinations. His advice to future GPs is to take a broader approach when male patients visit.
“Given the lower rates of GP visits among men, you may not know when you’re going to see them again. So with each visit doctors must take the opportunity to not just unpack the main reason the patient has come in, but to look at those preventative health activities and get them thinking more broadly about their health.
“There is a lot of scope to be proactive and preventative in the health issues men face. That’s why I took a special interest in men’s health. If you're able to engage with blokes, you can potentially prevent conditions or minimise the impact down the track."
Dr McIntosh hopes that men will take the same approach themselves, checking in regularly with their GP rather than waiting for a major issue to present itself.
“It's a lot like taking a car in for service. You take it in, even when it’s running well, for an oil change, tune-up, tyre pressure check, those sorts of things. You do it because you know otherwise you may end up broken down, stuck on the side of the road. The same should be true with your health. Regularly visiting your GP, checking things are running well, your blood pressures good, screening for conditions – it can really benefit you in the long term,” Dr McIntosh says.