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Patients who feel healthy stay away from their physicians


Survey finds American adults are avoiding common health screenings that could help save lives.

preventive care: © onephoto -

© onephoto -

If your patients only make appointments when they feel sick, you’re not alone.

A new survey reported about one in four American adults skip regular checkups because they feel healthy. Half of American adults have avoided at least one common health screening – even though 51% of people who had cancer said they were diagnosed due to routine checkups or screenings.

The findings were in research by Aflac Inc. insurance company, which published its Wellness Matters survey of 2,001 employed adults across the country.

"The results of the Wellness Matters survey put a spotlight on the need for individuals to have a more proactive approach to their health care," Aflac U.S. Chief Actuary Tom Morey said in a news release. "That is why Aflac is encouraging policyholders and others to take control of their health by building good health habits early, asking health and insurance providers questions, and prioritizing routine wellness checkups."

Staying away

Respondents had a number of reasons for staying away from the doctor’s office:

  • 23% - Conflicts with work hours
  • 22% - Not thinking about it
  • 21% - Dislike of going to the doctor
  • 21% - Insurance issues
  • 18% - Fear of hearing bad health news
  • 16% - Time commitment of going to the doctor

Positive men

Aflac reported men had a more positive outlook regarding all aspects of their current and future health, compared with women. Positive outlooks measured responses to weight/BMI (56% of men, 38% of women); financial health (53% vs. 40%); mental health (66% vs. 40%); and physical health (69% vs. 54%). Survey results from Hispanic men and women followed the same trend.

Aging into the doctor’s office

Patient age makes a difference in willingness to engage with physicians. Generation Z, those age 18 to 24, said they feel the least control over mental and physical health, but were most likely to skip annual checkups.

That compares with 64% of Baby Boomers, those aged 57 to 65 years, and 55% of Generation X, those aged 41 to 56 years, who think preventive care is very important to overall health and well-being, while only 49% of Millennials, aged 25 to 40 years, and 40% of Generation Z patients believe in the importance of preventive care.

Family and cash both motivate patients to get their checkups.

The survey reported people are more likely to prioritize wellness screenings as adults if parents or caregivers did so when they were younger. Baby Boomers (64%) were most self-motivated to go to the doctor, followed by Gen X (45%), Millennials (35%), and Gen Z (29%). Encouragement from family and friends would motivate 64% of patients to seek preventive care, and 85% of patients are more likely to schedule routine checkups if there was a cash incentive to help with cost, according to the Aflac survey.

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