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Factors influencing young men's decision to undergo health screening in Malaysia: a qualitative study
  1. Chin Hai Teo1,
  2. Chirk Jenn Ng1,
  3. Alan White2
  1. 1Department of Primary Care Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  2. 2Centre for Men's Health, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Chirk Jenn Ng; ngcj{at}


Objectives Uptake of health screening is low in men, particularly among those aged <40 years. This study aimed to explore factors that influence health screening behaviour in younger men.

Design This qualitative study employed an interpretive descriptive approach. Two trained researchers conducted in-depth interviews (IDIs) and focus group discussions (FGDs) using a semi-structured topic guide, which was developed based on literature review and behavioural theories. All IDIs and FGDs were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Two researchers analysed the data independently using a thematic approach.

Participants and setting Men working in a banking institution in Kuala Lumpur were recruited to the study. They were purposively sampled according to their ethnicity, job position, age and screening status in order to achieve maximal variation.

Results Eight IDIs and five FGDs were conducted (n=31) and six themes emerged from the analysis. (1) Young men did not consider screening as part of prevention and had low risk perception. (2) The younger generation was more receptive to health screening due to their exposure to health information through the internet. (3) Health screening was not a priority in young men except for those who were married. (4) Young men had limited income and would rather invest in health insurance than screening. (5) Young men tended to follow doctors' advice when it comes to screening and preferred doctors of the same gender and ethnicity. (6) Medical overuse was also raised where young men wanted more screening tests while doctors tended to promote unnecessary screening tests to them.

Conclusions This study identified important factors that influenced young men's screening behaviour. Health authorities should address young men's misperceptions, promote the importance of early detection and develop a reasonable health screening strategy for them. Appropriate measures must be put in place to reduce low value screening practices.


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  • Contributors CHT, CJN and AW made a substantial contribution to the conception, study design, development of the topic guide, data analysis and interpretation of the data. Data collection was done by CHT and CJN. Coding of data was also performed by CHT and CJN and the analysis was confirmed by AW. CHT wrote the first draft and led the revision of the paper. CJN and AW revised the article critically for important intellectual content. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by the University of Malaya Research Programme (grant number RP041A-15HTM). The University of Malaya had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was obtained from the University of Malaya Medical Centre Medical Ethics Committee (MECID.NO: 201410701).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.