22 July 2020 - Deborah Wilkes
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a “significant impact on people’s behaviour and attitudes to self-care”, according to research carried out by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Healthcare and Ipsos in Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.
Commenting on the findings, GSK said the vast majority of people across the four countries considered it important to take their health into their own hands to relieve pressure on healthcare systems. Spain led the way with 84% of respondents agreeing with this view, followed by the UK at 77%, Italy at 75% and Germany at 63%.
Role of pharmacists
GSK also pointed out that the role of pharmacists was increasing in importance in the wake of the pandemic.
The research found that just over a third of Europeans, 36%, would visit a general practitioner, walk-in centre or emergency department at a local hospital as the first port of call for advice about healthcare issues such as joint/movement pain, headaches, skin rashes or colds and flu.
However, 41% of people across the four countries said they plan to consult pharmacists more often for advice about how to treat minor health conditions. Britons, Italians and Spaniards were most likely to agree with this view – 48%, 46% and 45% respectively – while 27% of Germans agreed.
Nearly three-quarters of Britons, 74%, said they would trust a pharmacist to give them reliable advice to help them manage their health, and 66% of Spaniards, 61% of Italians and 54% of Germans feel the same way.
Another recent survey carried out in the UK by PureProfile on behalf of the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB) found that almost one in three people who would not have chosen a pharmacy as their first port of call for advice about self-treatable conditions are more likely to do so following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PAGB survey of 2,035 adults was carried out in the UK between 22 June 2020 and 1 July 2020.
The GSK research, which involved around 4,400 people, was carried out by Ipsos between 29 May 2020 and 1 June 2020. Around 1,100 Spaniards aged 16-65 years were surveyed, as well as 1,100 Italians aged 16-70 years, 1,100 Britons aged 16-75 years and 1,100 Germans aged 16-75 years.
Caring about others
The GSK research also indicates that people recognise the benefits of self-care for others. Around 64% of Europeans said they would now encourage others to take better care of themselves – 74% in Spain, 70% in Italy, 65% in the UK and 48% in Germany.
Health appears to have moved up the agenda in other ways. Around 65% of people across the four countries said they are now more likely to consider their health in day-to-day decision-making, and 59% said they now have a better understanding of what impacts their health.
When asked to consider their future behaviour, 77 % of Europeans said they would stay at home as much as possible when ill to avoid transmitting their illness to others.
The vast majority of people in all four countries – 80% in Spain, 79% in Italy, 68% in the UK and 60% in Germany – said they were taking extra precautions to avoid illness transmission.
Profound impact on our lives
Filippo Lanzi – regional head EMEA at GSK Consumer Healthcare – said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a “profound impact on the lives of people living in Europe and beyond”.
“Our research shows the extent to which the pandemic has impacted attitudes towards personal wellbeing and self-care,” added Lanzi, “and it is encouraging to see the increased importance that many people are now placing on looking after their own and others’ health.”