Americans Taking More Active Role in Health Care

Americans are feeling more responsible for their health, with 64% indicating in a national survey that they could be making more decisions about their health and wellness.

Americans are feeling more responsible for their health, with 64% indicating in a national survey that they could be making more decisions about their health and wellness.

In partnership with the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) and Pfizer, Ipsos surveyed 2024 US individuals aged 18 and older and 516 primary care physicians between September 25, 2014, and October 15, 2014.

The results suggest Americans are showing more interest in maintaining their health. In fact, 80% expect to be more active in managing their health than ever before.

The vast majority of participants said they feel confident in their ability to take responsibility for their health, and 89% said they knew whom to turn to for health questions.

When confronted with health concerns, about one-third of participants said they actively speak with their doctors (34%) and their pharmacists (33%). However, 38% said they might not have enough information to determine which OTC product is right for them. In addition, 56% said they seek out health care providers, including pharmacists, for help in finding the right OTC product.

More than half of the respondents said they would try an OTC product before consulting with a physician. About three-quarters of the participants said these products help them save money and time compared with visiting a doctor’s office.

Overall, most Americans and physicians surveyed said OTC products are important tools for health and give patients the ability to find solutions to their health problems more quickly. In addition, 82% said understanding their symptoms can help prevent misuse of OTC products.

Almost all respondents (92%) said they like being able to have better control of their health, although almost two-thirds said they could be making more health-related decisions.

In addition, more than 80% rated self-care as highly important to promoting health. Many individuals defined self-care as researching treatments, diagnoses, and management of health care issues on their own. Other common definitions were healthy habits, including diet and exercise, wellness check-ups, preventive care, consultations with doctors, and decision-making about health care.

Around 65% of respondents said they research symptoms and track their weight and blood pressure, and 59% said they take OTC products to manage acute health conditions.

“The survey findings demonstrate that people have a growing desire to manage their own health and take on these important decisions personally and for their loved ones,” said NCPIE executive vice president Ray Bullman in a press release. “In addition to working with health care professionals, individuals are actively seeking ways to treat, diagnose, and manage their health conditions and want the information and tools to do it better.”