Aetna International, a leading global health benefits provider, recently conducted research on the attitudes to health of workers in the US, UK, UAE, and Singapore. Their report revealed that about 40 percent of workers globally were worried about their long-term health. However, 40 percent also admitted that they have not had health check in the last year and a significant number have no idea about simple measures of health, such as cholesterol levels.
According to the research, many of these workers cite long and inflexible working hours as a factor that compounds the problem. Additionally, workers also tend to believe that they do not have the time to take off to better manage their health; choosing instead to work when they are not feeling 100 percent healthy.
Despite the fact that 96 percent of those surveyed think about their health at least some of the time, 40 percent do not go to the doctor to get health issues checked, even if they are concerned, and nearly 24 percent say they are too scared to get a health check.
The report has also found that very few employees actually know the basic indicators of their own health. Only about 1 in 3 know what their cholesterol level or body fat percentage. While most of these workers acknowledge the fact that they need to do more to improve their health, up to 40 percent say that they look up symptoms online to self-diagnose and self-medicate rather than seeking out assistance from a doctor.
Dr Sneh Khemka, President, Population Health & vHealth, Aetna International, said: “While the majority of workers are aware they need to do more to improve their health, fear and worry is causing a huge number to avoid the situation. More should be done to empower people to manage their own health, with a focus on changing company cultures to promote prevention and early intervention. It is not only the responsibility of the employee but that of the employer to ensure people are equipped to lead healthy lives.”
Increasing pressure in the workplace is being cited as a major factor that significantly impacts how people prioritise their health. Almost half of those surveyed by Aetna International admitted that they often feel stressed because of work but don’t see a healthcare professional about the issue.
Additionally, long and inflexible working hours bore the brunt of the blame, with up to a third of employees stating they do not have time to be ill at work. Up to 21 percent also cited a lack of time off from work as the reason behind their health inertia.
Employers could also potentially play a bigger role in encouraging their employees to look after their health, with over 27 percent of workers saying that they would go see a doctor if their bosses told them to do so. Up to 46 percent also said that being allowed to take time off work to go to the doctor would also encourage them to make an appointment.
Dr Khemka continued: “Expanding access to health care is imperative to ensure today’s time poor workers prioritise their health. Technology can undoubtedly play a role here, but businesses also need to ensure they create a culture where people can talk about and take time for their health needs.”