The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) joined with The Advertising Council today to launch a national public service campaign designed to raise awareness among middle-aged men about the importance of preventive medical testing.
Men are 25 percent less likely than women to have visited the doctor within the past year and are 38 percent more likely than women to have neglected their cholesterol tests (Source: AHRQ Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 2005). Furthermore, men are 1.5 times more likely than women to die from heart disease, cancer and chronic lower respiratory diseases (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2005).
The new campaign encourages men over 40 to learn which preventive screening tests they need to get and when they need to get them. This campaign complements AHRQ's existing efforts toward improving the safety and quality of health care and promoting patient involvement in their own health care, including the "Questions are the Answer" campaign launched with the Ad Council in March 2007 and the "Superheroes" Spanish-language campaign launched in March 2008.
"We hope this campaign will inform men about the importance of prevention and show them that they should work with their health care providers to find out what they should do to stay healthy," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D.
The campaign highlights the work of the AHRQ-sponsored U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which is an independent panel of experts in primary care and prevention that systematically reviews the evidence of effectiveness and develops recommendations for clinical preventive services. "By taking steps to prevent disease and stay healthy, men can live longer and more productive lives," said Task Force Chair Ned Calonge, M.D., M.P.H. "Prevention is a decision that includes participating in regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet and finding out which preventive medical tests are right for you."
Created pro bono for the Ad Council by McCann Erickson Detroit, the public service advertising campaign includes new television, radio, print and Web advertising featuring the theme "Real Men Wear Gowns." The lighthearted ads incorporate family as a key motivating factor for men to take a more active role in preventive health. They show the target audience that being a real man means taking care of themselves (and their health) in order to be there for their families and in the future. Ad Council research showed this was a strong motivating factor for men.
"Our research conducted during the development of this campaign found that despite their increased health risks men aren't taking preventive steps and are often only visiting their doctors when they experience symptoms," said Peggy Conlon, President & CEO of the Ad Council. "We are proud to continue our initiative with AHRQ with this wonderful series of PSAs designed to motivate men to take a more active role in their preventive health care.
The campaign encourages men to visit a comprehensive Web site www.ahrq.gov/realmen. The site provides the recommended ages for preventive testing (as well as a list of tests), a quiz designed to test your knowledge of preventive health care, tips for talking with your doctor, a glossary of consumer health terms, and links to online resources where you can find more medical information.
Public service advertisements are being distributed to approximately 33,000 media stations nationwide this week. Per the Ad Council's donated media model, all of the new public service advertisements will air and run in advertising time and space donated by the media.