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Closing the Gap: Encouraging men to access the care they need this Men’s Health Month

Each year, during the month of June, we recognize Men’s Health Month and Men’s Health Week (June 13 to 19). It’s a time to encourage the men in our lives to take care of themselves, whether it be exercising more, quitting smoking, addressing their mental health concerns or making that long overdue appointment for their routine cancer screenings.

The message is especially important as research continues to show healthcare disparity in racial and ethnic minority men. Racial differences in prostate cancer outcomes are a prime example. “We know that certain racial and ethnic minorities experience worse outcomes and lower quality of care across a variety of diseases, including prostate cancer,” says Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital Associate Surgeon and Director of Ambulatory Clinical Operations for Brigham and Women’s Division of Urological Surgery Quoc-Dien Trinh, MD, FACS. “There are biological differences, and while those may be important, it’s not the main driver explaining the gap. If we can improve access to care, we can begin to close the gap.”

And that’s just what Dr. Trinh is doing. In addition to contributing to numerous research studies on the topic of racial and ethnic healthcare disparities, he’s also taking action in his own practice by creating a prostate cancer clinic for patient populations who are traditionally underserved. “It’s not about equality, it’s about equity,” says Dr. Trinh. “Everyone deserves to have access to the highest quality healthcare, not just those who are better insured or who live near the best healthcare system.” The outreach clinic founded by Dr. Trinh and Adam Feldman, MD, MPH, at Mass General Hospital, is a system-wide project funded by Mass General Brigham’s United Against Racism initiative, which aims to address the many impacts that racism has on our patients, employees and the broader community.

And it’s not just prostate cancer screening where issues of healthcare disparity are apparent. Across the healthcare continuum, racial and ethnic minority men are at a disadvantage when it comes to access to care and quality of care. “Men’s Health Month is an opportunity to talk about these issues and encourage men to advocate for themselves where they can,” says. Dr. Trinh. “While so much of the problem feels big and out of the patient’s hands, there are things patients can do to ensure they get the care they need. The most important thing you can do is connect with a primary care provider who will help you navigate this complex system and ensure you have the routine screenings you need as you age. As a cancer surgeon, and as a person who cares deeply about equity, it’s my responsibility to enact change within the system itself.”

Was The Matrix in theaters the last time you saw a primary care provider? Now might be a good time to schedule an appointment with one of our expert physicians. To find a Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital primary care provider accepting new patients, click here.

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