Despite the wealth of information at our fingertips, most people are still deeply frustrated with the lack of clear guidance on health issues. Sure—you can plug any health condition into Google and instantly get millions of results, but chances are you’re not getting the answers you need or trust. How do we know that?
Every year for the last six years, Reader’s Digest and Trusted Media Brands, Inc., the parent company of The Healthy, has conducted a survey of the most trusted brands in America. In 2019, for the first time, we asked our 3,500 survey participants about an issue close to our hearts—medical care.
Getting an accurate diagnosis can be frustrating
We found that the majority of people—60 percent—say that finding an accurate diagnosis can be a frustrating process. Overall, 47 percent felt they had to take their health care into their own hands, searching for additional answers outside their doctor’s treatment plan.
Those percentages were even higher for women with chronic conditions, which were all too common: Overall, 43 percent of women said they had pain from issues like back pain or arthritis; 30 percent were suffering from a cardiac condition such as heart disease or high blood pressure; 26 percent reported digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or acid reflux; 25 percent had central nervous system troubles such as epilepsy, or mental health disorders like anxiety or depression; 13 percent reported lung conditions like asthma; and 13 percent had a women’s health-related issue such as fibroids or breast or ovarian cancer.
Not surprisingly, certain health conditions posed more trouble than others in getting a clear diagnosis or satisfying treatment. For example, women with conditions like depression, fibroids, breast or ovarian cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, pain, or anxiety, reported higher levels of frustration when compared to those with conditions like heart disease or diabetes. And compared to older generations, younger women were more likely to say they were unsatisfied with available options for managing their health issues: 38 percent of women aged 23 to 38 were frustrated with the resources for managing their health condition; just one in four women between the ages of 39 and 73 reported similar frustration, and only 14 percent of women 75-plus had this issue.
How to find solutions to health problems
Medical professionals are still the first resource for any health-related issue or problem. Dr. Google should never take the place of advice from medical professionals who have personally examined you while taking into account your medical history and test results. These pros tap their deep knowledge and education about health conditions to give you their expert opinions. Our survey results suggest that doctors are still far and away the most important resource people rely on for their health issues.
Overall, 79 percent of the people we surveyed said they trust their doctors to help manage their condition. Other resources people turned to included health websites or news sources (34 percent), family members (30 percent), pharmacists (25 percent), and friends (24 percent). A smaller number of people looked for assistance from alternative practitioners, books, magazines, insurers, Facebook groups, YouTube videos, community groups, Instagram, and social media.
Here at The Healthy, we use simple, friendly language sourced from medical experts and real people to provide solutions to health questions or problems. We are a problem-solving and storytelling site for people who care about health—their own and their loved ones.
We’ll focus on specific conditions throughout the year—chronic pain, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, and more.
We’ll help guide you past the roadblocks and frustration that so many of you battle when seeking answers. At The Healthy, you’ll get strategies for overcoming obstacles, guidance to reliable resources, and advice from experts who successfully treat these issues every day. You’ll also hear from patients who have overcome the same conditions.
We can’t provide all the answers—no single site can—but we hope this is a place you can go to get help. You may also be able to help others solve similar problems to your own: Throughout The Healthy, you will find a “Share Your Story” feature at the bottom of articles related to your condition. You can relate the decisions you made to manage your health, talk about who helped you along the way, and let others know what worked for you and what didn’t. Sharing your knowledge and experience will provide valuable insight to others—and it could even lead you to new and better solutions for yourself.
Hopefully we’ll hear from you, and maybe help you find answers to some of your most pressing health questions. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2020!