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New Survey Findings: What Does It Take to Get Americans to the Doctor?

People sit in doctor's waiting room. One woman looks a medical brochure and a man uses his smart phone to make a call.

New information on how well Americans are doing at maintaining their health.

Oct. 25, 2023

Nearly two-thirds of Americans only go to the doctor when something feels “extremely wrong,” according to new research recently published by Talker Research.

A recent survey of 2,000 respondents found that 64 percent take a more reactive approach to their health, rather than a proactive one.

Men polled were particularly susceptible to this – 79 percent said they only go to the doctor in “extremely wrong”-feeling cases compared to 59 percent of women.

The survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the Henry Schein Cares Foundation, also found that the average respondent had their last checkup two and a half years ago.

Sixty-five percent have not been screened for high blood pressure within the past five years, and 66 percent have not been screened for high cholesterol.

Approximately three-quarters of women have not had a mammogram or pap smear in the past five years, and 70 percent of men have not had a prostate exam in that time.

Overall, only 48 percent of insured respondents have gone to a physician for a physical exam within the past year.

Only 44 percent of all respondents have dental insurance, and respondents have gone an average of two years since their last routine dental cleaning or check-up.

Interestingly, 39 percent of those polled have seen a dentist within the last year, regardless of their insurance status, compared with only 34 percent who have seen a doctor for an annual check-up or physical exam.

In general, 78 percent of respondents said they feel comfortable at doctor appointments, but nearly one-third (27 percent) were more afraid of going to doctor’s appointments now more than they were before the pandemic.

Some of respondents’ least favorite parts of medical appointments don’t involve the doctor at all, such as sitting in the waiting room (29 percent) and taking the time to go to the appointment itself (21 percent).

Overall, Gen X and Baby Boomers were the least bothered by medical appointments, while Millennials and Gen Z ranked being touched or examined (22 percent and 27 percent), feeling pain (21 percent and 24 percent) and overall fear (21 percent and 22 percent) as among the top things that they dislike about visiting the doctor.

Results also showed that respondents generally trust their doctor’s advice — with two-thirds of the overall group surveyed falling somewhere between “completely” and “mostly” trusting their counsel.

The survey also revealed that one-in-10 (10 percent) of Gen Xers said they “never” trust their doctor’s overall medical advice.

The biggest red flags patients look out for are doctors who appear to be disinterested in their well-being (40 percent).

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