NEWS:

A new report, published today, by the ILC-UK and supported by an unrestricted grant from Pfizer, explores where consumers go to seek out health information and who they trust. “Next Generation Health Consumers” incorporates a survey of 4,182 individuals across the UK, Germany, France and Portugal.

  • One third of older people in France and Germany report finding health information very or fairly difficult.
  • One in seven over 65s in the UK report it difficult to find health information.
  • Almost one in four of our survey respondents aged under 24 in France reported it to be very or fairly difficult to find health information (compared with 12.6% in Germany, 4.35 in the UK and 9% in Germany)

The research finds unsurprisingly, that as we get older we report poorer health. But whilst older people in the UK report better health than older people in other countries, younger people in the UK report poorer health than those of the same age in Germany, France and Portugal.

  • Our sample of Portuguese older people were much more likely to report poor health than those in the other countries studied. Three quarters of Portuguese aged over 65 reported fair or poor health compared to just under four in ten people in the UK.
  • Older people in the UK were more likely to report excellent or very good health than those in Germany, France and Portugal
  • 12% of people aged under 24 in the UK reported fair or poor health, a figure much higher than found in Germany, France and Portugal

Across Europe the majority of citizen report that they find it very or fairly easy to access health information but there are significant numbers who struggle. Older people are more likely than younger people to report difficulties in finding health information. But many younger people also struggle.

  • More than one third of older people in France and Germany reported finding health information very or fairly difficult. One in seven over 65s in the UK report it difficult to find health information.
  • Significant numbers of younger people find it very or fairly difficult to find health information. Almost one in four of our survey respondents aged under 24 in France reported it to be very or fairly difficult (compared with 12.6% in Germany, 4.35 in the UK and 9% in Portugal)

The report highlights where individuals go for information about their health across the four countries studied and finds:

  • Across all age ranges and countries, doctors and nurses are a very important source of health information.
  • Individuals were less likely however to go to doctors and nurses for information about staying healthy. The severity of the health condition that determines the extent to which individuals prefer to consult their GP or nurse for advice.

The report finds a strong relationship between trust and usage of health information.  Across all countries and sample members, the usage of and trust in doctors and nurses dominates over all other health service providers.

Across the four countries studied, the report finds however that different age groups look to different sources of health information with younger people for example, more likely than older to trust and use the internet in general and therefore to use it also for this purpose.

  • Among our Portuguese sample, just 6.8% of people aged 65 or older use the internet compared with 91.0%  of those aged 24 or younger. Our UK sample found around 44.5% of people aged 65 or more use the web while 99.1% of those aged 24 or less do. The same pattern was observed in Germany and France

The report finds that there could be an increasingly important health role for pharmacists across Europe:

  • For those aged 65 or more, pharmacists represent the most helpful source for receiving more information from in three of the four countries we feature. In the UK, 33.5% of those aged 65+ (88 out of 263 persons in this age range) want more health-related content from this source; while in Germany and Portugal 30.6% (67 out of 219 people) and 36.7% (76 out of 207 people) do respectively.

Sally-Marie Bamford, Research Director at ILC-UK said “Whilst the majority of us do not find it difficult to access health information, this research highlights that there are millions who struggle. This research highlights that there isn’t a one size fits all solution. Older and younger people trust and use different sources of health information. If we are to have an empowered and healthy older population, improving access to health information is vital. As new ways of communicating become more commonplace we must not forget the diversity of our population. We must work to raise the health literacy of all ages.”

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