Psychosocial factors that influence men's help-seeking for cancer symptoms: a systematic synthesis of mixed methods research Academic Article uri icon


  • Effectiveness of cancer control partly depends upon early identification and treatment. Men appear to be more likely to delay help-seeking for symptoms, resulting in later diagnosis. This review aims to provide a mixed research synthesis of the psychosocial barriers to and facilitators of help-seeking for cancer symptoms among men.Systematic methods were followed, including a predefined research question and search strategy. Searches retrieved 7131 international records from online databases: MEDLINE (n = 3011), PubMed (n = 471), SCOPUS (n = 896), Informit (n = 131), PsychINFO (n = 347), and Web of Science (n = 2275). Forty studies were eligible for inclusion in the review (25 qualitative studies, 11 quantitative studies, and 4 mixed-method studies).There was strong observational evidence for several psychosocial barriers to men's help-seeking behaviour: low cancer knowledge and inaccurate symptom interpretation, embarrassment and fear, and conformity to masculine gender role norms. The strongest facilitating factor associated with men's help-seeking behaviour was encouragement and support of spouses and family members. The majority of research was qualitative and used small samples, making generalisations to the wider population difficult.Men's help-seeking for cancer symptoms is influenced by several psychosocial factors, which, in part, may be gender-specific. Health promotion initiatives to improve help-seeking behaviour among men should aim to increase cancer knowledge, reduce embarrassment and fear, address social norms deterring timely help-seeking, and acknowledge informal help-seeking with spouses and family members. Increasing the theoretical grounding of research could aid cohesion across the research area and the design of effective health promotion interventions. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • Fish, JA
  • Prichard, I
  • Ettridge, K
  • Grunfeld, EA
  • Wilson, C

publication date

  • 2015