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AHRQ and the Ad Council encourage men to take preventive steps in their health care

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) joined with the Advertising Council to launch a national public service campaign designed to raise awareness among middle-aged men about the importance of preventive medical testing. The new campaign—"Real Men Wear Gowns"—men over 40 to learn which preventive screening tests they need to get and when they need to get them. This campaign complements AHRQ's existing efforts toward improving the safety and quality of health care and promoting patient involvement in their own health care, including the "Questions are the Answer" campaign launched with the Ad Council in March 2007 and the "Superheroes" Spanish-language campaign launched in March 2008.

According to AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, men are 25 percent less likely than women to have visited the doctor within the past year and are 38 percent more likely than women to have neglected their cholesterol tests. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that men are 1.5 times more likely than women to die from heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory diseases.

The campaign highlights the work of the AHRQ-sponsored U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which is an independent panel of experts in primary care and prevention that systematically reviews the evidence of effectiveness and develops recommendations for clinical preventive services. Created pro bono for the Ad Council by McCann Erickson Detroit, the public service advertising campaign includes new television, radio, print, and Web advertising that incorporates family as a key motivating factor for men to take a more active role in preventive health. They show the target audience that being a real man means taking care of themselves (and their health) in order to be there for their families and in the future. Ad Council research showed this was a strong motivating factor for men.

The campaign encourages men to visit a comprehensive Web site, www.ahrq.gov/realmen/. The site provides the recommended ages for preventive testing (as well as a list of tests), a quiz designed to test knowledge of preventive health care, tips for talking with the doctor, a glossary of consumer health terms, and links to online resources where men can find more medical information.

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