Sydney, Australia – Findings released today from a Philips worldwide attitudinal study on health and well-being has found that whilst Australia rates third overall in the world, it rates the worst amongst those people aged over 65.
Conducted in 30 countries worldwide, the Philips Health Index found that Australians’ satisfaction with their overall health and well-being falls behind APAC countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, but well ahead of most other developed nations, such as USA, Germany and Japan.
PHILIPS HEALTH INDEX
5. The Netherlands
Overall satisfaction with health and wellbeing as of September 21, 2010
Of most interest to researchers was the fact that only 21 percent of Australians in the 65+ age group rate their health and well-being as either good or very good, the lowest level of satisfaction in the study and quite surprising when compared to 74 percent of Americans, 69 percent of French and 71 percent of Chinese. The figure is also significantly below the UK at 40 percent.
The views of older Australians are in stark contrast to younger generations, with 80 percent of those aged 18-24 rating their health and well-being as either very good or good.
Younger generations display a more relaxed attitude towards their health and are more likely to rely on technology in the future to solve their health issues. In fact, more than 70 percent of Australians aged 18-24 think medical technology will allow them to live longer.
Whilst the Philips Health Index shows that Australians feel personally responsible for their health, an astounding 40 percent claim they never, or hardly ever, go to the doctor for a specific problem or illness. Despite this, Australians remain optimistic about the future of their health, with 75 percent of Australians believe they will live to be over 80 years old, compared to Japan (32 percent), the UK (44 percent) and the USA (59 percent).
Dr. Eric Silfen, Chief Medical Officer for Philips said, “Australia’s baby boomer generation is clearly concerned about their health, yet 81 percent believe they will live to be over 80. This presents a number of challenges for service providers and policy makers alike, including funding and being able to meet the increased levels of demand for quality care.”
Philips believes that the research seems to indicate that Australia’s “she’ll be right” approach to health could potentially be one of the factors responsible for our increasing obesity rates and substantiate government fears burgeoning health issues in the future.
“What Australians fail to realise is that this relaxed attitude towards self-care can impact health and well-being in the long-run. Ironically, it’s actually Australia’s optimism and complacency about their personal health that presents one of the most significant threats to it,” said Dr Silfen.
Australians in general appear to feel positive about their personal health, with 79 percent of Australians saying they are generally satisfied, but the Philips Index also indicates Australians are in denial about many aspects of how to maintain a healthy life.
For example, only 23 percent of Australians think they are overweight, compared to 39 percent of Americans and 54 percent of Britons, when in reality over 60 percent of Australians are considered overweight or obese and that percentage is growing faster than any other OECD country .
When asked about emotional health, Australians said they worried most about financial issues including healthcare costs (58 percent), the economy (57 percent) and having enough money to save for the future (54 percent).
In line with our relaxed attitude, many Australians do not consider themselves to be at all stressed. Only 14 percent describe themselves as being somewhat or very stressed compared to the USA (79 percent), the UK (89 percent) and Japan (91 percent).
Friends and family life is the area most Australians (72 percent) are content with. Personal time is certainly the new currency, with almost half of all Australians saying they spend time relaxing at home to improve their feeling of well-being.
About the Philips Index: Australia’s Health & Well-being Report 2010
The Philips Index: Australia’s Health & Well-being Report examines the mega-trends that shape each nation’s healthcare, lifestyle and who we are as a society, with a focus on what aspects of health and well-being are most important, how satisfied people are with these aspects, and the role that technology plays in helping society maintain better health and well-being.
As well as reporting on Australian’s overall feeling of health and well-being, the report derives a ‘health and well-being index – the Philips Index’. This is an analysis where overall satisfaction with various components of health and well-being are weighted by their relative stated importance.
The 2010 Philips Index: Australia’s Health & Well-being Report is part of a global initiative and is being replicated in over 30 countries around the world.
1 ,2 Australia’s Health 2010 – in brief. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2010