Over half of Irish adults (54%) avoid visiting their GP because of the expense involved, according to a nationwide survey of 1000 adults commissioned by QUINN-healthcare. The figure is highest among females (56%); people in the 35-44 age group (62%); and people living in Dublin (57%). People over the age of 55 are less likely to avoid GP visits for financial reasons.
A large majority of adults (69%) wait until they feel ill or experience symptoms before they would consider going for a health check or annual check up. This number is significantly higher amongst younger people – 80% of people between the ages of 25-34. However, a significant percentage of older people also avoid health checks without experiencing symptoms first; 68% of people between the ages of 45-54 and over half of people aged 55+.
Despite citing prohibitive cost as a reason for avoiding GP visits, females still visit their GP more frequently than males, with over three in five women visiting a GP more than three times a year. Less than half of males said they visit their GP more than three times a year. Not surprisingly, people over the age of 55 were most likely to visit their GP over three times a year (67%).
Fewer than half of respondents believed complementary therapy to be a good option – though women were significantly more likely than men to find it worthwhile (47% vs 30%). More than 20% of people were unsure about the benefits of complementary therapy.
Commenting on the survey results, Sarah O’Neill, Occupational Health Advisor (RGN, RM, OHA) with QUINN-healthcare, said: “The most surprising finding is that so many older people (over 55) don’t get a health check unless they feel ill. Common illnesses in the over 55s range from cardiac conditions such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and obesity to arthritic conditions and many more. Certain cancers such as colon, prostate and breast are also more common in the over 55s so attending a screening program or the GP on an annual basis for a full health check is an important and proactive way of protecting your health.
Another worrying finding is that over half of Irish adults avoid GP visits because of cost. Many people are unaware that their health insurance policies could provide refunds of up to 50% on out-patient visits. People should take this into account when considering the overall cost of seeing a doctor.”