American men are sicker and more likely to die early from preventable causes than peers abroad, study finds
Men in the United States are sicker and more likely to die early from preventable causes compared with their peers in other similarly high-income countries, a new study has found.
Released on Thursday by the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit organization focused on public health issues, the report compared “health care accessibility, affordability and health status” for adult men across 11 high-income countries, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand and Australia.
The study used data from the organization’s International Health Policy Survey and from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Across the 11 countries included in the study, rates of chronic conditions, avoidable deaths and mental health needs for U.S. men were among the highest.
Men in the U.S. and Australia were found to be most likely to report having multiple chronic conditions at 29% and 25% respectively. Meanwhile, France and Norway were the lowest at 17%.
Across the 11 countries included in the study, U.S. men were also found to have the highest rate of avoidable deaths, or deaths before 75 years old, with 337 avoidable deaths per 100,000 males, compared with the U.K., which had the second highest rate at 233 avoidable deaths per 100,000 males. Switzerland had the lowest rate at 156 avoidable deaths per 100,000.
The study focused largely on the impact that financial barriers have on the “health care habits” of American men. It found that men in the U.S. with lower incomes had higher rates of multiple chronic conditions.
It also found that men in the U.S. and Switzerland said they skipped needed care due to costs and incur medical bills at the highest rates.
Overall, men in the U.S. with lower income or frequent financial stress were found to be “less likely to get preventive care, more likely to have problems affording their care, and more likely to have physical and mental health conditions.”
Mental health care needs were also highest among men in Australia and in the U.S. at 37% and 35% respectively. Mental health care needs were lowest among men in Germany at 13%.
In the U.S., mental health needs were found to be highest among income-insecure men.
While the study’s findings offer a bleak picture of the state of health care for men in the U.S., there was one silver lining, with American men found to have the lowest rate of prostate cancer-related deaths among the 11 countries included.
“The relatively lower U.S. prostate cancer death rate likely reflects the quality of cancer care in the U.S., which features extensive screening as well as a variety of advanced treatments and technologies,” the report said.
Ultimately, the report said the analysis “dramatizes the failings of the U.S. health care system with respect to men.”
“While doing relatively well in prostate cancer care and treatment, the United States compares poorly to most other high-income nations when it comes to receipt of preventive care and affordability of care,” it said. “And on nearly every health care measure we studied, men in the U.S. with income insecurity fared the worst.
“As a result, American men, particularly those with lower incomes and financial stress, have the poorest health outcomes,” it said.