Workers Want More Health Info than Doc's Say-So

December 5, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.COM) - Nearly all patients faced with a health treatment decision want more information beyond their doctor's input, according to a new survey.

A National Business Group on Health news release about its poll said 90% of respondents would like to consult other data sources.

The announcement said that in the past two years, nearly three in four survey respondents (72%) have turned to their doctor’s office for health information, followed by Web sites (68%), their health plan (67%), friends and family (66%), magazine/news articles (61%), Rx package inserts (59%), and their employer (54%).

The survey found that six in 10 (60%) employees have not seen any health-care quality comparison information. Among those who have, more than half did not use that information to select a plan or provider.

Companies may be able to help fill that information need in their workplace, according to the group. “In many cases, employers can help their workers become more engaged consumers by providing access to trustworthy, authoritative sources of medical information,” said Helen Darling, President of the National Business Group on Health, in the news release. “It’s important that employees be given understandable medical information and options to make important treatment decisions and improve their lifestyles.”

Age Differences

According to the survey, younger workers have markedly different attitudes toward treatment, product information, and insurance costs than older workers. The older population is more open to a new treatment than the younger age groups.

The poll found that for those under age 50, there is a strong preference for the well-established treatment (45%) compared with the new treatment (25%). For those age 50 or older, there is almost an even split, as 36% prefer the established treatment and 35% prefer the new treatment.

The survey also found that frequent use of consumer product information declines with age. Just over half (52%) of those under age 30 use the information often or very often, compared wtih just 25% of those age 60-69.

The announcement said that, although the majority of respondents classified themselves as being in either good (41%) or very good (39%) health, 11% rated themselves in fair/poor health, and about half have a chronic health condition requiring regular medical care, such as high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or depression.

The survey was conducted in September 2007 by Mathew Greenwald & Associates on behalf of the National Business Group on Health. A total of 1,558 randomly selected workers participated in the survey. To participate, workers had to be between the ages of 22 and 69, covered by health insurance, and currently working for an employer with at least 2,000 employees.