Three Quarters of Boomers Believe They Should Be Doing More to Better Manage their Health

Wait Times and Rushed Appointments among the Top Sources of Frustration when Seeing Their Doctor

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New York, NY – Nearly all Americans between the ages of 51 and 69 (“Baby Boomers”) who have a primary care doctor, or don’t currently have one but have seen one in the past five years, agree that preventative care is an important part of staying healthy (94%), with more than three quarters saying that they get regular preventative screenings (mammogram, colonoscopy, bone density, etc.) (77%), and more than half saying that they eat a well-balanced, healthy diet (65%), get a good 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night (62%), and exercise regularly (51%). In addition, 81% of Baby Boomers surveyed say that they know their numbers and what they mean (blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugars, etc.), while a slightly smaller proportion agree that they can easily access all of their health records and medical history (71%).

  • Women, those earning more than $50,000 annually, who are slightly older (ages 60 and up), are married, and have a college degree are among those most likely to agree with these statements.

Despite this, roughly three quarters (74%) still agree that they should be doing more to better manage their overall health – particularly those ages 51-59 (77%) and those with no college degree (78%). Additionally, more than eight in ten (84%) say that they are willing to invest more time and/or money in their health if it means they can live a longer and healthier life.

  • Boomers in the New York metro area feel better about the state of their health, with fewer agreeing that they should be doing more to better manage their overall health (59% vs. 74% of Boomers nationally). Boomers in this area are also more likely to say that they exercise regularly (57% vs. 51%), although they tend to get less sleep, on average (56% vs. 62%).

When asked more specifically what would motivate them to prioritize their health and invest more time and/or money in staying healthy, having an unexpected, life-threatening diagnosis (43%) is most likely to get respondents more invested in staying healthy, while about one in ten (14%) say the same thing about a friend/family member having a health scare. More than a third (35%) believe that having evidence that their investment would make a difference would motivate them to prioritize their health, while slightly smaller proportions are motivated by the help/support of others, including a quarter each that say the same thing of having an expert create a clear plan tailored to helping them achieve their personal health goals (28%), or having a strong support system made up of friends, family, and mentors to encourage them (25%). However, nearly one in five (17%) say that nothing would really motivate them to prioritize their health and invest more time/money in staying healthy – particularly men (20%), those over the age of 60 (20%), and those with no college degree (19%) - as they are not sure many of us have much control anyways (it’s all in the genes). One in ten (13%) mention something else.

Attitudes and Opinions towards Primary Care Doctor

Respondents generally have positive opinions and attitudes towards their primary care doctor, with roughly eight in ten agreeing that their doctor listens carefully to all of their questions and concerns (88%), knows their name, history, and medical issues (82%), and is also thoroughly up to speed on their medications and the care they receive from specialists (79%). Another two thirds further agree that their primary care doctor is available whenever they need him/her (73%), and contacts them to discuss test results, without respondents having to call first (65%). In comparison, only three in ten say that their doctor wouldn’t recognize them on the street (31%), or feel as though their doctor should be doing more to help them stay healthy (26%).

When thinking about the qualities that they most value in a primary care doctor, having visits that don’t feel hurried and last as long as they need to tops the list, selected by more than six in ten Baby Boomers (62%).

  • While it’s clear that Boomers do not want to feel rushed during their visit, many (31%) report that they typically spend more time in the waiting room than they do with their doctor when they go in for a visit. Likewise, some Boomers spend more time getting their oil changed (28%), surfing social media (18%), waiting for a table at a popular restaurant (15%), talking to their financial advisor about their financial health (11%) or talking to their vet about their pet’s health (9%) than they do with their doctor at their appointment.

Other top qualities that Boomers would most value include a kind and compassionate bedside manner (50%) and same-day or next-day appointments (46%), while two in five say the same thing about having a doctor that focuses more on prevention and wellness versus just treating them when they are sick (39%). Strong credentials (29%) and the ability to contact the doctor 24/7 by cell phone or email (23%) are perceived to be top qualities by roughly a quarter, while price transparency (17%) is least likely to be top of mind when thinking of the qualities most valued in a primary care doctor. One in ten, however, say that they would not value any of these qualities when thinking about their primary care doctor (11%).

  • Although respondents in the New York metro area generally value similar qualities when thinking about their primary care doctor, they are significantly more likely to emphasize the importance of strong credentials (39% vs. 29% of Boomers nationally).

Actual versus Ideal Relationship with Doctor

When thinking about a typical visit to their primary care doctor, most Boomers describe the actual experience like shopping at the grocery store – you go in, get what you need, and then you are done (45%).

Some have a more positive view, saying that going in to see their PCP is similar to consulting with a trusted financial advisor that knows your personal situation, makes good recommendations, and gives you peace of mind (25%); or like grabbing coffee at their favorite spot, where they are recognized by employees and get their order right (9%). Others liken their doctor visits to more negative experiences, such as going through airport security (inconvenient, quick pat down; 11%), or waiting in line at Disney (long wait, but usually worth it; 10%).

However, when thinking about how they wish their experience could be when visiting their primary care doctor, most would hope to have an experience similar to consulting a trusted financial advisor (40%), while about one in five each wish their experience could be quick and convenient – like shopping at the grocery store (21%) or grabbing coffee at their favorite spot where they are known by the employees (20%). Only one in ten prefer having doctor visits that are akin to waiting in line at Disney (11%) or going through airport security (8%).

Similarly, when thinking about a typical conversation with their primary care doctor, most (41%) say that talking to their doctor feels like talking to a favorite coach/mentor who understands what motivates them and helps them achieve their goals, while three in ten (31%) say that talking to their primary care doctor is like talking to a close friend who can get them to share things they wouldn’t share with anyone else. These two scenarios are also top ranked when it comes to Boomers’ ideal interaction with their PCP, with nearly half wishing that talking to their doctor was like talking to their favorite coach (48%), or to their close friend (41%).

Meanwhile, roughly one in five (18%) describe a typical conversation with their doctor like trying to speak with their boss when they are already running late for a meeting – versus only 4% who wish this was the case. Only 5% each say that talking to their primary care doctor is either like talking to someone speaking in another language (5%) or the annoying know-it-all from high school (5%) – and even fewer would wish that talking to their doctor was as such (4% and 3%, respectively).

Top Healthcare Frustrations

When thinking about their last few visits with their primary care doctor, some of the biggest frustrations revolve around waiting, most notably a third (32%) who complain about time spent waiting while in office to see the doctor when they are there for an appointment. Nearly one in five also mention being most frustrated when trying to get an appointment (18%) or waiting for a call on test results (15%). Others are irritated by the limited time they actually had with the doctor (26%); not being able to get all of their questions answered (15%); or being seen by someone other than their doctor, such as a nurse practitioner, or physician assistant (13%). Boomers are least likely to express frustration due to dealing with rude of impatient staff (9%), although one in ten still mention this when thinking about their last few visits to the doctor. However, on the plus side, more than half of all Baby Boomers surveyed (55%) say that they do not experience any frustrations with their primary care doctor.

  • Younger Boomers (ages 51 to 59) are more likely to report experiencing frustrations when thinking about their last few visits to see their doctor – especially when it comes to waiting while in the office to see the doctor (38% vs. 26% ages 60+), trying to get an appointment (20% vs. 15%), and being seen by someone other than their own doctor (15% vs. 11%).
  • Those over the age of 60, in their turn, are significantly more likely to say that they experience no difficulties with their primary care doctor (61% vs. 50%).

Over a third (36%) have been motivated to take action as a result of these frustrations, including 16% who have stopped seeing their doctor or switched doctors, and another 11% who have considered switching doctors, but haven’t yet. Not quite one in ten say that they have gone to an urgent care facility or the emergency room (9%) or searched the Internet for advice (9%) instead of going to the doctor when they felt ill, while one in twenty say that they have gotten up and walked out of the doctor’s office (6%), complained to the staff (6%), or called a friend or family member when feeling ill (5%) due to frustration with their own doctor. Very few complain on social media (1%) when they feel frustrated towards their primary care doctor.

  • Women are especially likely to take action as a result of being frustrated, with significantly greater proportions saying that they have stopped seeing the doctor and/or switched doctors (20% vs. 12% men), or have gone to either the urgent care/emergency room (11% vs. 7%), searched the Internet (11% vs. 7%), or consulted friends and family for advice (6% vs. 3%) when feeling ill instead of going to the doctor.

These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of MDVIP, fielded August 25th – 31st, 2015. For the survey, a sample of 1,049 U.S. adults between the ages of 51 and 69 (“Baby Boomers”) who have a primary care doctor or have seen a primary care doctor in the past five years was interviewed online, in English.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’s online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing sample. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2014 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents, and plus or minus 5.5 percentage points for those specifically living in New York (see link below for more info on Ipsos online polling “Credibility Intervals”). Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,049, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=4.9 for all respondents).

For more information about Ipsos online polling methodology, please go here http://goo.gl/yJBkuf

For more information on this news release please contact:

Chris Jackson
Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
202.420.2011
chris.jackson@ipsos.com

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Three Quarters of Boomers Believe They Should Be Doing More to Better Manage their Health

Contact

Chris Jackson
Vice President, US
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1.202.420.2025
chris.jackson@ipsos.com