When it comes to being healthy, it seems Australians are all talk and no action and women actually avoid GPs more than men.
The secret’s out – Australian men are not as macho as they think they are. New research for the GSK Health Index (sponsored by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline) reveals that women are more likely to avoid a GP visit with 85 per cent admitting that they wait to see their doctor until they are either sick, have been sick for a few days or are so ill that they cannot get out of bed.
Although the GSK Health Index shows that women resist going to their GP when unwell, the bigger picture suggests that all Australians need to pay more attention to health prevention with only one in five Australians seeing their GP or health professional to avoid getting unwell.
Commenting on the results Dr Eugene Goh from GSK said, “Overall The GSK Health Index shows that the majority of Australians tend to ‘ride out’ their health issues rather than nipping them in the bud – Australians may think this is admirable but it doesn’t do us any favours and makes those around us sicker.”
It’s not just friends and family who are affected. Turning up at work while unwell also affects productivity with the cost to the Australian economy estimated at $25 billion in 2005/06. On average, six working days of productivity were lost per employee in workers not performing to their full capacity and passing illness onto colleagues.
“Regular visits to a GP are one of the best ways to catch health issues early. If you are over 40 an annual check-up is essential, so set a memorable date such as a week after your birthday and save yourself having to play down your health concerns. If you are under 40 a check-up every two years is appropriate so think about booking one on every birthday that falls on an even number,” said Dr Goh.
The GSK Health Index also shows that while 75 per cent of us have sought out health information in the past three months, 60 per cent of us still say that willpower or commitment is ultimately holding us back from making the big changes needed to look after our health.
Dr Goh said it was no surprise that people were well intentioned so early in the year.
“At this time of year the days are longer, we’re more active and we’ve all made New Year resolutions,” Dr Goh said. “The challenge is to convert our good intentions into action. The problem is that sometimes we don’t give ourselves a chance to start seeing results so we give up or fall into old habits.”
According to the GSK Health Index two-thirds of Australians are planning to take action so that they can continue feeling well over the next three months but 20 per cent believe that they lack the knowledge to take care of their health properly.
“Sometimes it’s not enough to be excited about making a change. You need to do your homework and get some guidance from someone who knows the area. The advice you get from a coach, personal trainer or nutritionist could be all you need to make sure you see results sooner and feel better about the change you’ve made.”
Several ways to increase your chances of success when making lifestyle changes include:
- Planning your change: Find out more about the sport, activity or diet you have chosen and recognise where you are most likely to face challenges eg. If quitting smoking, plan ahead how best to manage situations where you will be tempted to light up.
- Setting goals: Be realistic about what can be achieved and allow time to see the change. e.g. Start jogging a short distance and slowly build this up as your fitness level increases.
- Involving a friend: Any change is easier when made with support, so get a buddy involved so you can motivate each other and share the highs and lows.
- Rewarding yourself: When you reach a goal, make sure you recognise it in a way that encourages you to go further.
The GSK Health Index aims to provide a snapshot of Australians’ understanding of, and behaviour, toward health and health-related issues. Using a ‘baseline’ series of questions, the survey provides an ongoing comparison of health behaviour amongst Australians with a view to identifying trends. The survey also has a number of changing questions that focus on a specific, topical health issue.