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Community Health Data Base
An Information Service of the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation

The Health Status of Men in Southeastern Pennsylvania: Health Behaviors and Barriers to Care
Wednesday. June 5, 2013


June is Menís Health Month!  The National Institutes of Health confirms that men are less likely to get medical care than are women, and are more likely to have unhealthy behaviors like smoking and excessive drinking.(1)  In the US, life expectancy among men is consistently lower than among women.  Local data for our area point to some of the health difficulties faced by Southeastern Pennsylvania men.

The PHMC Center for Data Innovation and the Community Health Data Base (CHDB) used data from the 2012 Household Health Survey on the health of men, 18 years or older for this report.  The Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey is administered by telephone in more than 10,000 households in the SEPA region, including Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties. Every two years, this survey collects key health information on SEPA residents to support health programs across the five county area.

Health Care

Nationwide, adult men receive less routine health care than do adult women(2).  Research on Southeastern Pennsylvania showed similar differences.

  • Approximately 174,900 men in SEPA (15.1%)have no public or private health insurance.
    • Young men are less likely to be insured, with 22.0% of men 18-39 in SEPA uninsured, as compared with 10.5% of men 40-49, 9.2% of men 50-59 and 6.9% of men 60-64.
    • Men are less likely to be insured than women (one in ten SEPA women are uninsured) and may face special barriers to health care because of this.
    • Nearly one in five men (17.9%) did not see a doctor in the past year, as compared with one in ten women (9.8%).
    • More than one in ten men in SEPA (11.6%)--and 16.4% in Philadelphia--did not fill a prescription because of the cost during the past year, and 12.5% did not seek health care when they were sick due to the cost (16.7% in Philadelphia).

Men who do not receive routine care miss important health screenings. About 194,100 men in SEPA (13.6%) have not had a blood pressure reading in the past year, and half of SEPA men aged 45 or older (54.6%) have not had a prostate exam in the past year.

  • Approximately 217,000 men in SEPA (15.1%) describe their health as fair or poor. Many of these men have chronic health conditions.
  • Three in ten men in SEPA (31.0%) have been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
  • One in five men in SEPA (20.5%) have been diagnosed with arthritis.
  • Approximately 188,300 men in SEPA (13.1%) have been diagnosed with diabetes, and an equal number have been diagnosed with asthma.
  • More than two thirds of men in our region (67.2%) weigh more than they should, and a quarter of men (25.5%) are classified as obese based on Body Mass Index (Figure 1).  This represents about 955,500 men in our region whose health might be improved by decreasing their body weight.

Health Behaviors

Many of the chronic conditions that shorten lifetimes and reduce quality of life can be prevented or mitigated by lifestyle changes, including eating a healthy diet, being physically active, and avoiding smoking.  In Southeastern Pennsylvania, many men have the opportunity to improve their health behaviors and change their overall health and wellbeing.

More than four in ten men 18+ in Southeastern Pennsylvania (42.5%) exercise on three or fewer days each week. This represents approximately 611,000 men who might be able to improve their health by increasing their physical activity. One in ten SEPA men (10.7%) indicates that they never exercise.

One in five SEPA men (20.8%) smoke cigarettes, representing approximately 298.600 men, and this is much higher in Philadelphia where 27.5% of men smoke, as compared with 15.6% in Chester County, 15.8% in Montgomery County, 17.2% in Bucks County and 19.6% in Delaware County (Figure 2).   More than four in ten men living in poverty (44.5%) smoke cigarettes.  More than half of men in SEPA who smoke (53.0%) tried to quit smoking during the past year.  In addition, 7.9% of men in our region (approximately 113,600) use other tobacco products such as cigars or chewing tobacco.

The findings on men in Southeastern Pennsylvania reflect national trends.  In many ways, men face additional health risks when compared with women.  Local data, however, show that area men may be able to make lifestyle changes that will improve their overall health outcomes. 

For more information about menís health or the Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey, contact Rose Malinowski Weingartner at

To download this article in as a PDF, click here.  To read more about our previous data, please click here.



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