A new consumer survey shows Slovakia lags behind many other EU countries in using self care. Consumers lack knowledge, skills and income.
Bad Hofgastein, 3 October 2103: Slovak consumers wish to take greater control of their health through self care. However, they face barriers and are missing out on many of the personal, social and economic benefits available. This was revealed in a survey (http://selfcare.epposi.org) that examined detailed attitudes of European citizens to self care for the first time. The Self Care Perception Barometer was commissioned by Epposi, a Brussels-based independent, multi-stakeholder health think-tank. It surveyed almost 2,000 citizens in 10 European countries, including Slovakia, looking at perceptions towards self-medication, personal health maintenance and accessing the knowledge and skills required for self-care.
Launching the survey at the European Health Forum Gastein, Austria, Jacqueline Bowman-Busato, Executive Director of Epposi, said; “Our survey shows that consumers want to use self care to take greater control of their own health and well-being. Almost 90% of people spoken to for the survey believe that self care is crucial to staying healthy and to managing their illnesses such as diabetes, incontinence or their minor ailments.”
However, many people feel they are prevented from managing their own health by cost, health literacy and even communications skills of medical professionals.” She continued; “These barriers can and should be overcome because the individual, social and economic benefits of self care are really significant. Even replacing a tiny percentage of hospital visits by self care, for example, would lessen financial and human resource pressure of health care systems, and empower patients and their families”.
Ms Bowman-Busato pointed out that many barriers were relatively easy to address. “Improving basic health literacy and providing quality information would be an excellent start.” In Slovakia, only 52% of respondents felt knowledgeable about self care – just over half the number in Denmark .Ms. Bowman-Busato also cited financial barriers; “Self care products and services need to be easily accessible and affordable; 26% of those surveyed said they found the cost prohibitive. Governments should identify policies that encourage self care, especially in low income groups.” This is particularly relevant in Slovakia, where the number of respondents indentifying income as a barrier to self care was eight times higher than in Scotland.
The main reasons for the gap between desire to self care and practice are a lack of confidence and a lack of information. Less than 20% make lifestyle changes, with fewer still choosing to self-medicate. Only one in seven people reported that they felt very confident to practice self care. In addition, a lack of easily accessible, reliable information leaves individuals dependent on other sources. The majority of people still choose to visit their family doctor as their first step in dealing with health problems, despite 75% saying healthcare professionals lack the communication skills to help. Around 20% use the internet as an initial source of information, with 10% asking their pharmacist. Source: Epossi.org