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Novant Health finds 3 in 4 Americans are prevented from being their healthiest selves


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., September 21, 2016 – Some 93 percent of Americans say it's important to them to be healthy in general - not just "get better" when they are sick. And yet 3  in 4 Americans (76 percent) say they are prevented in some way from being their healthiest self, according to a new consumer attitudes study about health. They have widespread concerns about being and staying healthy, as well as lack the time, interest and motivation to pursue good health.

Novant Health commissioned the study, which was conducted online by Harris Poll in March 2016 among 2,104 U.S. adults aged 18 and older.

The study, “Novant Health Consumer Attitudes about Health,” found that most American adults are worried about their health, with 85 percent saying that something concerns them. Just 17 percent gave themselves top marks – an “A” grade ─ in terms of staying healthy. Most reported some dissatisfaction with their health. The survey found that 34 percent believe their health could be better and 47 percent believe they’re generally healthy but have areas to work on. One-third (33 percent) said their lack of motivation or interest prevents them from being their healthiest self.

American adults’ attitudes about health show a lack of motivation or interest that may be contributing to their inability to achieve the health they want. The biggest barriers to being and staying healthy, according to the survey, are lack of interest/motivation (33 percent), time (30 percent) and cost (27 percent).

Younger adults, especially millennials (ages 18 to 35), report a lack of time as the biggest barrier to better health. A full two-thirds of millennials (66 percent) said they would take better care of themselves if they had more time to do so.

More women than men said they face barriers to being healthy. Factors include family responsibilities, more time spent on sedentary activities, and stress.

"This research further confirms that there isn’t just one solution to empower Americans to live a healthy lifestyle," said Jesse Cureton, Novant Health executive vice president and chief consumer officer. "True health and wellness requires several vital factors to come together and play a strategic role. Those factors include having quality physicians who understand how to interact with patients, developing innovative resources like Novant Health’s MyChart which empowers patients to engage with their physician and, most importantly, a healthcare system that reinvests its resources in population and public health initiatives."

Executive summary of findings

Very few U.S. adults feel that right now is their “healthiest” point in their lives.

  • Typically, Americans feel they were at their healthiest at age 27.
  • While more than 3 in 4 Americans (77 percent) describe their current overall health as “excellent or good,” nearly half (46 percent) say they are very or somewhat concerned about their health right now.
  • The groups most concerned about their health include heavy internet users (53 percent), sandwiched caregivers – those caring both for children and aging relatives ─ (59 percent) and people with comorbid conditions – those with two or more chronic conditions (54 percent).

Few Americans give themselves top marks when reflecting on how well they take care of themselves.

  • The survey found that 3 out of 4 Americans (75 percent) put themselves in a more modest range (a “B” or “C” on a standard academic grading scale) for staying healthy.
  • Very few Americans (8 percent) give themselves failing or near-failing grades (“F” or “D”).

Time is seen as a barrier to health for many Americans. However, on a daily basis, Americans spend significantly more time on sedentary activities than they do exercising.

  • Almost half of Americans (47 percent) feel that they would take better care of themselves if they had more time to do so.
  • On average, here’s how Americans spend their time each day:
    • 5 hours sitting at a desk for work
    • 4 hours watching TV
    • 1 hour using social media
    • 1 hour driving
    • 1 hour exercising
  • About 2 out of 3 millennials (66 percent) and gen-Xers (63 percent) claim they would take better care of themselves if they had more time to do so.

Overwhelmingly, consumers feel it is important to be healthy in general, not just “get better” when they are sick.

  • Some 96 percent feel that they personally are responsible for staying healthy and 96 percent feel that their personal lifestyle choices (e.g., eating healthy, exercising regularly) are valuable in treating and preventing chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, pre-diabetes/diabetes and/or obesity.

Americans do not proactively seek out health information.

  • Only 1 in 3 Americans (34 percent) say they continually seek out the latest advice and information to keep healthy.
  • Twenty-two percent of Americans say they don’t need a healthcare professional’s advice on how to stay healthy.
  • However, 87 percent of consumers say that when they’re diagnosed with a health condition, they read as soon as possible materials their doctor gives them.

“Quality” in healthcare is defined multidimensionally.

  • Effective treatment (77 percent), being treated well/with respect (74 percent) and full disclosure (71 percent) are considered almost equally important in defining quality healthcare.
  • Doctor or hospital rankings and reviews were seen as the least important factor in defining quality healthcare (28 percent).

The internet is a top health resource, but there is some question about its value and whether it does more harm than good.

  • Although healthcare providers are the primary source relied on by nearly 2 in 3 Americans (65 percent), more than 2 in 5 (42 percent) rely on some online source to get information about their health.
  • For half of consumers (50 percent), the internet is their first resource for researching health questions.

There is a clear priority, but a lack of action, around end-of-life care planning.

  • The study found that 92 percent of respondents agree having a plan for end-of-life care is important.
  • However, only 29 percent find end-of-life care planning absolutely essential, compared with 39 percent of people who believe that retirement planning is absolutely essential.
  • Some 43 percent of consumers have not made any end-of-life plans.

The way consumers engage in healthcare depends on age and gender.

  • Men are more likely to say they are in good shape (30 percent), versus 24 percent of women.
  • Women are more likely than men to rely on healthcare providers and other sources, while men are more likely to say they avoid going to the doctor if at all possible.
  • Women are more likely than men to say that planning for end-of-life care is important and that anytime is the best time to talk about end-of-life wishes and preferences with loved ones. However, men are more likely to have specific measures currently in place and evaluate their plans annually.
  • About half of younger adults avoid doctors if possible and don’t see a primary care provider routinely. They are more likely than older adults to go only if they need a prescription.
  • More than 60 percent of younger adults find homeopathic remedies valuable in treating and preventing chronic health conditions and about half lean on online resources for information about their health and healthcare.
  • Younger adults are more concerned about their health because of eating habits (especially millennials) and stress, while older adults are concerned with managing chronic health conditions.
Research method

This survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Novant Health from March 1-9, 2016, among 2,104 U.S. adults aged 18 and older. For complete research method, including weighting variables and additional subgroup sample sizes, please visit NovantHealth.org/ConsumerAttitudes or email publicrelations@novanthealth.org.

About Novant Health

Novant Health is an integrated network of physician clinics, outpatient facilities and hospitals that delivers a seamless and convenient healthcare experience to communities in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. Named in 2016 by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the nation’s 150 best places to work in healthcare, Novant Health consists of more than 1,380 physicians and nearly 24,000 employees and provides care at 530 locations, including 14 medical centers and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the health system serves more than 4 million patients annually and in 2015 provided more than $706 million in community benefit, including charity care and services. Diversity MBA has recognized the organization as one of the 50 best places for women and managers of diverse background to work and SK&A ranks Novant Health among the top 25 integrated health systems in the nation. Novant Health provides care in Virginia under the joint operating company, Novant Health UVA Health System.

For more information, please visit our website at NovantHealth.org. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Posted on Wednesday, September 21, 2016
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