Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Family Practice and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Malaysian primary care doctors' views on men's health: an unresolved jigsaw puzzle

Seng Fah Tong12*, Wah Yun Low3, Shaiful Bahari Ismail4, Lyndal Trevena5 and Simon Willcock2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2 Discipline of General Practice, University of Sydney Medical Program, Sydney, Australia

3 Medical Education and Research Development, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

4 Department of Family Medicine, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kubang Kerian, Malaysia

5 School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Family Practice 2011, 12:29  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-29

Published: 12 May 2011



Men have been noted to utilise health care services less readily then women. Primary care settings provide an opportunity to engage men in health care activities because of close proximity to the target group (men in the community). Understanding attitudes towards men's health among Malaysian primary care doctors is important for the effective delivery of health services to men. We aimed to explore the opinions and attitudes of primary care doctors (PCDs) relating to men's health and help-seeking behaviour.


A qualitative approach to explore the opinions of 52 PCDs was employed, using fourteen in-depth interviews and eight focus group discussions in public and private settings. Purposive sampling of PCDs was done to ensure maximum variation in the PCD sample. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim for analysis. Open coding with thematic analysis was used to identify key issues raised in the interview.


The understanding of the concept of men's health among PCDs was fragmented. Although many PCDs were already managing health conditions relevant and common to men, they were not viewed by PCDs as "men's health". Less attention was paid to men's help-seeking behaviour and their gender roles as a potential determinant of the poor health status of men. There were opposing views about whether men's health should focus on men's overall health or a more focused approach to sexual health. There was also disagreement about whether special attention was warranted for men's health services. Some doctors would prioritise more common conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and hypercholesterolaemia.


The concept of men's health was new to PCDs in Malaysia. There was wide variation in understanding and opposing attitudes towards men's health among primary care doctors. Creating awareness and having a systematic approach would facilitate PCDs in delivering health service to men.

men's health; attitude of health personnel; family practice; health promotion; general practice