Study: COVID-19 has prompted Americans to focus more on their health

A new study released today by digital health company Rally Health, Inc. found a significant proportion of Americans have a poor understanding of preventive care, while at the same time, COVID-19 has prompted them to focus more on their health.

According to the survey, a plurality of respondents (43%) said that COVID-19 has caused them to focus on their health more than ever before. Forty-nine percent said it has made them more aware of their physical health and 44% reported that it has made them more aware of their mental health. COVID-19 has prompted many to take greater control of their health, with many reporting that they are eating more healthfully (24%), exercising more regularly (21%) and focusing more on their mental health (21%). Even as many people focus more on their health, one in three (36%) does not have a good understanding of preventive care, with almost 1 in 10 saying they have never heard of it.

The new Rally Health study, “Preventive Care in America,” examines consumer perceptions, concerns, challenges and behaviors tied to preventive care, health in general, and the impact of COVID-19. Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Two in three Americans report that they have a pretty good understanding of what preventive care means (64%), with two in three (69%) agreeing preventive care will help them reduce their health care costs in the long run and 67% agreeing that preventive care is the number one form of self-care. Most have gone in for a routine check-up in the past year (59%) or regularly see a primary care physician at least once a year (78%). They’re also taking the time to do their own health research, with two thirds (68%) saying they believe it is worthwhile to do their own research in addition to discussing their health with their health care provider.

  • While many think they have a good understanding of preventive care, the vast majority of Americans don’t think about it in a holistic sense to include lifestyle behaviors and mental health. Only 10% of Americans recognize healthy lifestyle behaviors related to, for example, diet, and not smoking or misusing alcohol as part of preventive care, and just 1% identify mental health, depression and stress management as an important part of preventive care. Only 51% of Americans say they generally have a healthy lifestyle.

  • Those who were taught healthy habits at a young age by their parents are significantly happier and healthier in life and also are more knowledgeable about prevention. Americans who were taught healthy habits and lifestyles by their parents report they are more likely to be satisfied in life (80% vs. 57%) and more optimistic about their future health (75% vs. 47%) compared to those not taught healthy habits. They are also more likely to understand what services and screenings are included in preventive care (69% vs. 48%). However, only 38% of Americans report that their parents taught them how to live a healthy lifestyle.

  • Americans who are using digital health tools and embracing telehealth are reaping significant rewards, feeling more optimistic about and in control of their health. For many, COVID-19 has been the catalyst to try telehealth. As a result, one in three have scheduled their first virtual medical appointment (34%) and four in 10 are more willing to have virtual medical appointments vs. in-person (44%). For a third of Americans, this is a trend that is here to stay (32%). In addition, those using digital health tools feel more optimistic about their future health (66%) .

“Although great progress has been made in recent years to raise awareness about preventive care, too many Americans don't understand its basic concepts. We need to take this concept to the next level that encompasses a more holistic approach that includes lifestyle behaviors and especially mental health,” said Steve Olin, chief product officer, Rally Health, which develops online and mobile tools to help people take control of their health.

With people reporting that they value doing their own research to help make decisions about their health, a key part of this strategy will be to empower individuals with intuitive, easy-to-use tools and resources that deliver the most accurate and comprehensive health information available."

Steve Olin, Chief product officer, Rally Health

About the survey

Preventive Care in America was an online survey conducted by global independent research firm Edelman Intelligence, commissioned by Rally Health. The survey interviewed 4,002 U.S. adults, representative of the U.S. in terms of age, gender, region, race/ethnicity, household income and education. Data was collected between August 14-26, 2020. The margin of error is +/- 1.6 percentage points. For additional survey results, click here.

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