Taking care, taking control: Self-Care Attitudes 2022
PAGB’s latest report Taking care taking control: Self-care attitudes 2022 details the findings from a UK-wide survey of more than 2,000 adults. We asked people about their attitudes to self-care and accessing health services. Our findings show that the public want to embrace self-care but need the tools and infrastructure to help them to do this.
Worryingly, the results show that consumers lack the confidence and knowledge to care for the most common self-treatable conditions including backaches, headaches, diarrhoea and constipation. More than half of respondents (52%) do not feel confident in treating backache; one in five people (23%) would not feel comfortable self-treating a headache; and a third would be uncertain about how to treat constipation (34%) and diarrhoea (33%). Over a quarter of people (27%) reported that they thought it was acceptable to go to A&E and use GP services for conditions that they could treat themselves at home.
Michelle Riddalls, Chief Executive of PAGB, warned: “Our survey reveals an alarming lack of confidence and knowledge around self-care for everyday ailments and highlights the threat this poses to struggling frontline health services. With a twindemic looming the NHS cannot afford people turning up to A&E to treat minor ailments such as coughs, headaches and sore throats.
“People need to be empowered to self-care. We know it can be done. During the pandemic a coordinated campaign by NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care to stay at home and self-treat had a positive effect on both people’s confidence and ability to self-treat. We need to replicate this for all self-treatable conditions.
“While this is an urgent call to action for the Government and NHS to drastically improve self-care education, this cannot be achieved in isolation. Industry and pharmacy have a role to play in improving self-care education. An important part of self-care is about making healthcare understandable and accessible; only then will people feel confident in looking after their own health. Four out of five people (81%) agree with this and believe we need more self-care education.
“Despite the difficulty many consumers face getting GP appointments there has been a fall in the number of people seeking advice from pharmacists for common ailments. Fewer than half (44%) now turn to these highly qualified health professionals for initial advice, compared to 47% last year.”
Deborah Evans, community pharmacist and an advisor to PAGB, said: “These shocking findings show we need to get people back into their community pharmacies and talking to their pharmacist. Pharmacists train to qualify for five years and can help provide expert advice on all self-treatable conditions including minor cuts and burns to aches and pains.
“Pharmacists are well placed to drive a holistic approach to self-care. They can help to advise people on the most suitable and effective over-the-counter treatments as well as self-care techniques.”
Read the report here: Taking care, taking control: Self-care attitudes 2022