Published by GPEx on August 20, 2019

Father's Day

Father’s Day is a great time to reflect on the rights and responsibilities of being a Father. As all fathers know there are no rights just responsibilities (right?!) with the occasional gesture of appreciation that comes once a year with jocks, socks and maybe aftershave if you are lucky. Breakfast in bed and all the good stuff seems to be reserved for Mother’s day.

This year it is an opportunity to reflect on the recent Heart Foundation public shaming campaign for those unfortunate enough to suffer a cardiovascular event. The fact that 80% of deaths from coronary artery disease are attributed to preventable risk factors – obesity, poor physical activity, heavy drinking and eating unhealthy food seems to have been overlooked. This issue is mirrored albeit to a lesser extent with 40% of cancer deaths attributed to preventable lifestyle factors. We are happy to point the finger at smokers who are actively harming themselves but why not with other lifestyle issues?

Father’s Day needs to be a reminder to all men that we are partners, fathers brothers and so on who have responsibilities not only to ourselves but to our families. As male GPs, we need to take care of our own health and engage more proactively with our male patients to “man up” and take responsibility for their own health. They must not be allowed to forget their responsibilities to their families. With direct honesty being not so socially unacceptable, the framing of the approach is obviously most important.

The most useful, in my experience “I am concerned about you … what are WE going to do about it”. Genuine concern and willingness to help with a joint effort and personalised approach can lead to successful behavioural change. Whilst unexpected medical events do happen that are outside of our control, there are things that fathers can do to improve their health and life expectancy, to be there for their children for as long as they can. We owe it to ourselves, our patients and their loved ones to pick up our games and drive some behavioural change this Father’s Day.

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