Aims On average, men have a life expectancy of seven years less than women. Young men often delay or avoid talking to anybody about serious health concerns because they are socialised not to show pain, to be self-sufficient and not to appear weak, all of which are inconsistent with help-seeking behaviour. Many young women have regular visits with their general practitioners, beginning in adolescence, to discuss contraception. These visits ideally involve sexual health counselling and advice regarding future cervical smears. This makes engagement with the health care system routine for adolescent girls and provides a basis for regular care. Magazines are recognised as being not only a source of health information, but also as having the ability to influence people’s attitudes, knowledge and beliefs about health. We know that girls use magazines as a source of health information, but this study aimed to see if the same is true for adolescent boys.
Methods 357 boys aged 12–18 years were given questionnaires to complete at school. They were asked if they read magazines, which type they read and whether they read any health related topics.
Results 357 (100%) questionnaires were returned. 10 were spoiled and therefore excluded. 51% of the boys said they read magazines. The most popular magazine choices were – sport 38%, car 15.3% gaming 10.4%, science/technology 9.5%. However only 14.1% of the boys said that they read health related articles in magazines. Health topics read included Exercise/fitness, Healthy eating, Cancer, Sex/STIs and Dental hygiene.
Conclusion Male adolescents rarely access health care, and often become disconnected, particularly as they get older. It is thus important that efforts are made to engage them. This study has shown that boys read magazines. Yet only a minority are reading health topics, either because the magazines contain little health content or because they are choosing to skip these sections. There is clear potential for magazines to be a source of health care promotion amongst adolescent boys. Paediatricians need to encourage magazines aimed at boys to print more health related topics and/or incorporate health messages in a way that encourages adolescent boys to read them.
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