, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 409-415
Date: 03 Oct 2013

The role of interpersonal relationships in men's attendance in primary care: qualitative findings in a cohort of men with prostate cancer

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Men's response to ill health is framed as a “battleground” for the enactment of masculinities. With an increase in diagnoses of men's cancers, there is a need to better understand the features which influence timely access to diagnostic services. This study explored the ways in which men account for the timing of their diagnosis of prostate cancer.


Thirty semi-structured interviews were conducted with men and, where possible, their partner. Data were analyzed with reference to framework analysis.


Relationships, including spousal, familial, and friendships, appear pivotal in informing men's help-seeking behaviors. Friends and partners were often critical in facilitating access to primary care. Following their own diagnosis, this virtuous cycle of encouragement led many men to encourage others to seek medical attention for prostate tests.


Interpersonal relationships are a missing dimension in models of delay. We need to know more about how to use relationships, in addition to traditional routes, to harness health promotion messages. Interpersonal relationship, including partners and social networks, may be powerful conduits and may prove effective mechanisms to identify and access men most at risk of prostate cancer.