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Wednesday Aug 10, 2016

Men's Health Campaign Offers Opportunity to Tout Family Medicine

On Aug. 9, the AAFP released a new survey on men's health, and the data provided some interesting insights, such as the percentage of U.S. males who exercise regularly and the percentage of men who have a regular source of care. Both figures, 52 percent and 80 percent, respectively, represent improvements since the AAFP conducted a similar survey in 2007.

That 2007 survey, although nearly 10 years old, remained one of the most frequently accessed resources in the Academy's Press Center, so we knew that updating it would not only spark important discussions about men's health issues in the media, it also would provide an opportunity to raise the profile of family medicine.

Here I am doing a radio interview about men's health. I spoke with 17 television stations and seven radio stations Aug. 9 from AAFP headquarters in Leawood, Kan.

The morning the survey was released, I was at AAFP headquarters in Leawood, Kan., where we used a satellite truck and a temporary studio to conduct 24 interviews with reporters around the country -- at 17 television stations and seven radio stations -- in a little less than six hours. Meanwhile, AAFP President-elect John Meigs, M.D., participated in 15 radio interviews from his office in Alabama, for a total of 39 media outlets reached. We also used a coordinated social media effort to reach not only the media but also our members and their patients.

We spoke with journalists and talk show hosts from major media markets, including Boston, Atlanta and Denver, from coast to coast and north to south. We also talked with media in smaller cities, such as Raleigh, N.C., and Wichita, Kan. In short, we were everywhere.

Those interviews raised important health issues, such as the fact that 48 percent of men have at least one chronic condition (up 6 percent since 2007). They also gave us a chance to answer basic questions about what family physicians do and why every patient should have one. The answer, of course, is that we provide comprehensive care across generations to both genders throughout the lifespan, and patients who have a family physician have lower health care costs and better outcomes than those who do not.

It's exciting to note that this isn't a one-day effort. Many of the interviews were taped and will be used at a later date, and the Academy's public relations staff will continue to promote the results at key points, meaning the topics of men's health and family medicine will still be in the news days, weeks and months from now.

This is just the beginning. Don't be surprised if new patients tell you they didn't have a family physician, but they heard on the radio or TV that they ought to have one.

This project is just one part of an overall strategy to raise the profile of family medicine in an era of immense change so that our specialty will no longer be overlooked and undervalued.

Wanda Filer, M.D., M.B.A., is president of the AAFP.

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