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Women are compromising their husbands' and partners' health by undermining their consultations with GPs and persuading them to work through illness, according to a new study.

The study by researchers at the University of Staffordshire, entitled 'Leaving it up to the wife: Men delegating the care of their health to women', found men often left responsibility for their health care to women in their household.

According to study authors Dr Susan Hale, Dr Sarah Willott and Dr Sarah Grogan, too often this had a negative effect on men's health. The authors concluded: 'Women often colluded with doctors to present men as childlike and incompetent and men's reduced status in health consultations then acted as a barrier to their full participation in health care.

'Findings also suggested that women encourage men and boys to live up to male stereotypes, to carry on working when ill and to depend on over-the-counter medications to treat health problems.'

Dr Roger Gadsby, RCGP council member and senior clinical lecturer at the University of Warwick, agreed that women often took greater control of their partners' or husbands' health care.

'Sometimes a female patient may talk more about her husband's health or a specific problem they are concerned about,' he said.

Dr Gadsby, a GP in Nun-eaton, added that more needed to be done to involve men in their own health care, particularly regarding male cancers, as more should be done to encourage men to carry out testicular inspections.

The study's authors presented their findings at the British Psychological Society's annual health psychology conference last week, as well as another study on the relationship between men of different socioeconomic classes with their GPs.

This study, entitled 'Mix and Match: What do men want from their GP?', found that men with a low socioeconomic status sought a more personal, warmer relationship from their GP. But often GPs responded with a 'business-like approach'.

By Joe Lepper

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