Men have long used humour when discussing their health. New Welsh research explores exactly how. The results of the study at the Welsh School of Pharmacy in Cardiff were presented during the 2004 British Pharmaceutical Conference (BPC) held at Manchester in September.
The research found that humour was used in a number of ways. ‘One-liners’ using sarcasm and teasing were used when discussing causes and management of a range of illnesses and ailments such as headache, low mood, stomach upset or testicular cancer.
Researcher at the Welsh School of Pharmacy in Cardiff, Dr Dai John said that the research supports conclusions from earlier studies that men use disparagement, joking and other types of humour to discuss personal or sensitive issues with each other that otherwise could be difficult to deal with.
"Men are notorious for sticking their heads in the sand when it comes to talking about health issues and treating ill health", Dr John said. "However this research indicates that when they talk about health and illness they are more comfortable communicating their views and experiences through the use of jokes and humour"
Dr John added that the results of this study have serious implications for the way health professionals communicate with men and that the use of humour could be very useful when directing messages to them.
In an interview to the BBC, Professor Tony Moffat, the chief scientist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said that "the concern with men is that this jokey, macho approach can mean they don't seek treatment for illnesses"
Prof. Moffat explained that "It is particularly the case for young men, who think they are immortal, but with things such as testicular cancer it is important men check regularly… Even stomach upsets can become serious, but evidence suggest it is not until men are over 50 that they really start to take their health seriously… But the macho jokes are also about something else, men are often scared about illness too."