A New York medical centre has launch a sports-themed waiting-room to make its service more "male friendly" in a move that the media have described as the "bro-ification of health".
Men's health experts have long argued that health services tend to be more female-friendly environments, with the ubiquitous pile of women's magazines on the waiting room table cited as the most obvious example of this trend.
According to the Practitioners Guide to Effective Men's Health Messaging published in 2014 primary health services, for example, are predominantly orientated to women and children.
"More often than not the décor is female orientated, reception and nursing staff are generally female, reading material is orientated to a female clientele (fashion, women’s magazines), the client base is predominantly female and most of the health promotion material on display is orientated to women’s and child health," says the guide.
Now Man Cave Health, a not-for-profit dedicated to changing the landscape of men's health, has tackled that barrier head on with probably the world's most male-friendly waiting room.
According to a report in Fast Company magazine, the waiting room is a "dude paradise" where men can "lounge on caramel-colored leather couches while watching ESPN on a 70-inch screen TV". The room is decked out with "local sports team memorabilia–ranging from signed Jets helmets to framed Islanders jerseys–pepper the wood-paneled walls". There's a coffee bar offering drinks and a barstool and counter where your can charge your phones.
"It’s a tasteful take on masculinity, pushing the sports theme without delving into juvenile clichés," concludes the magazine's review.
The waiting room, which is connected to the urology department at Mount Sinai Healthcare System in New York, is Man Cave Health's first project.
It's the brainchild of Thomas Milana Jr. who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016 at the age of 48 years old. He was happy with the medical treatment, but not the environment, especially when compared to the women’s clinics he visited with his wife, that felt like "upscale spas or boutique hotel lobbies".
According to their website, the Man Cave experience aims to be "a unique patient care model that’s needed now more than ever. Combining educational resources, emotional support and the latest in medical technology".
The sports-themed facilities are designed to make men feel at ease, "complete with a team of friends, medical professionals, educators and advocates ready to help them take control of their healthcare journey. We are making it more comfortable for men to go to the doctor by replacing the traditional, clinical setting with a more masculine décor."
This may all sounds a little too gimmicky, but the medics have noticed a difference.
Dr. Ash Tewari, chair of the urology department at Mount Sinai Healthcare System, told Fast Company Magazine:
“Being relaxed in that room, they start conversations about topics that they never usually talk about. They’ll engage a stranger in a story about an uncle who survived prostate cancer or discuss an aunt currently battling breast cancer. Those discussions never used to happen. But sitting there talking about it, something happens.”
Milana, the Man Cave Health's founder, agrees. “You can see the faces on these people when they walk in–they don’t want to be there,” he says. “Then five minutes after sitting in a chair, having a cup of coffee, and looking around, their demeanor changes.”
Milana is now considering adding to the Man Cave Health portfolio with different versions of the "male-friendly" theme, with plans for a surf-inspired waiting room at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine.
To date, Milana has funded the initiative from his own pocket with the help of memorabilia donations from sports teams.
TAKE ACTION FOR MEN'S HEALTH
- FIND OUT MORE: Man Cave Health website
- READ: Bro-ification of health (Fast Company Magazine)
- LEARN: Practitioners Guide to Effective Men's Health Messaging (Mengage)