Grandfather and child on a pier

Honest health conversations can help Kiwi dads

Thursday , 2 September 2021 by Alaina McGregor

No matter how old you are, it can be uncomfortable having a conversation with your Dad about his health, and harder still for him to take advice from his child – but taking the time to talk about medical concerns could help save their life.

According to the Southern Cross Healthy Futures Report 2020, 12 per cent of men don’t seek professional advice or treatment when they’re really unwell, and 34 per cent take more than two days. This is despite 57 per cent being worried about experiencing or developing an illness and 39 per cent being concerned about inheriting an illness.

Dr Stephen Child, Chief Medical Officer for Southern Cross Health Insurance (SCHI), said if anyone has been putting off broaching a health concern with their dad, there’s no better time to do it than on Father’s Day this Sunday – even if it’s a virtual catch up for those in lockdown.

“The ‘she’ll be right attitude’ is still an issue when it comes to New Zealand men taking their health seriously, and often they are too scared to volunteer the information to their GP or family, or they put it off thinking it’s not serious enough. The issue is that too often, it’s left too late, and many conditions can be treated if caught early enough.

“Family could play an important role in providing support, both when someone is unwell, but also to create a safe space for open conversations if anyone has concerns such as seeing a change in behaviour or something physical like an unusual looking mole,” said Child.

Leading health insurer SCHI has revealed its top surgical claims* for men at different ages because it’s important to know what types of health conditions are common as they enter different life stages, said Child.

“For young men in their twenties or thirties, we see a lot of claims for minor surgery such as removal of teeth, sinus surgery and septoplasty. However, by the time they have reached middle age, we start to see more claims related to men ageing.

“Colonoscopy tops the list for men in both their forties and fifties, hip and knee replacements become more commonplace and spinal fusions start to make an appearance on the top five list. We all know a Dad with a bad back, but there’s no need to suffer in silence when there are options available to treat the pain, and that doesn’t just include surgery.

“When men enter their sixties and seventies, a common age when men become a grandfather for the first time, dodgy hips and knees become more of an issue. But Southern Cross also receives a high number of surgical claims for hearts and prostate so it’s vital that men have regular heart checks and make prostate screening a priority. In men over seventy, many need cataract surgery as eye health starts to deteriorate,” said Child.

Another reason it’s important to have health conversations with whānau is because knowing your family health history helps people to assess their own health risk for developing conditions or diseases.

“A lot of hereditary diseases like high blood pressure and high cholesterol can be managed through healthy weight and diet. But if heart disease or cancer runs in your family, you may want to start screening for those earlier than recommended, or find out if there is a genetic link, which there is with some gastric cancers and a mutation in the CDH1 gene,” added Child.

“Talking about mental health is also an important conversation to help address the increasing rates of suicide, particularly among men. Father’s Day is a day to show how much you care about your dad, and there’s no better way to do that than by putting their health first.”


*Top five surgical claims by total $ paid - by age band for men

(data source: 1 July 2020 – 30 June 2021)


  1. Removal of teeth
  2. Endoscopic sinus surgery
  3. Septoplasty
  4. Colonoscopy
  5. Tonsillectomy


  1. Endoscopic sinus surgery
  2. Colonoscopy
  3. Removal of teeth
  4. Septoplasty
  5. Excision of skin lesion


  1. Colonoscopy
  2. Endoscopic sinus surgery
  3. Spinal fusion
  4. Excision skin lesion
  5. Total hip replacement


  1. Colonoscopy
  2. Total hip replacement
  3. Total knee replacement
  4. Spinal fusion
  5. Coronary angiography


  1. Total knee replacement
  2. Total hip replacement
  3. Colonoscopy
  4. Coronary angiography
  5. Prostate surgery


  1. Total knee replacement
  2. Excision skin lesion
  3. Total hip replacement
  4. Coronary angiography
  5. Cataract extraction and insert