As part of the award-winning #BeHealthiHer movement, GCI Health and HealthyWomen teamed up with Prevention magazine to conduct the Stay Healthy in 2020 survey to examine changes in how women are approaching their preventative care during the pandemic. The survey revealed that the majority of women (70%) are not regularly getting screened for health conditions such as cancers and heart disease, even before delays in medical care or stay at home orders were in place due to COVID-19. The staggering results are highlighted in Prevention this month. Together, the organizations are launching the BeHealthiHer Now campaign, to encourage women to focus on their immediate health and act to make those important health appointments and screenings now. Despite all the uncertainty in our world today, there is no better time than now to take charge of our health and hold our loved ones accountable to do the same.
“Based on what we’ve been hearing in the medical community about the prediction of cancer rates rising due to preventative screenings falling through the cracks because of stay-at-home orders, we set out to find out exactly how many women were delaying or missing these important appointments ,” said Wendy Lund, CEO of GCI Health. “Interestingly, while only a very small percentage (14%) of women who had preventative care visits scheduled during the pandemic cancelled them due to not being comfortable being around people – which was a lot lower than what we thought it would be – our results revealed a much more concerning female prevention knowledge gap.”
Findings revealed that across all ages and races, less than 30% of women are regularly getting screened for any type of health condition with the top three reasons being:
• Cost/insurance barriers (25%) with the highest group being Black women (39%) which further showcases health disparities in preventative care
• They don’t think it’s necessary (25%); with the highest group being those ages 65-74 (41%) which are the ones who likely need it the most
• They don’t have time due to family and work obligations (24%) with the highest group being 18-24 (38%) year olds
“The real concern is that 63% of women are not serious about getting preventive care, despite their increased likelihood of developing chronic conditions as they age,” said Beth Battaglino, RN, CEO of HealthyWomen. “Knowing that number jumps to more than 80% in women 55 and older, we need ensure women are making and keeping these basic screenings which can literally save lives.”
Other key findings include:
The utilization of telemedicine has increased, but also poses a hurdle for many women. Appointments that don’t require diagnostic tests can easily be adaptable to telehealth, but in-person visits are still necessary for many preventative care screenings, such as mammograms, gynecologic screenings, colonoscopies, blood work and blood pressure monitoring.
The survey found the level of acceptance in the technology is generational with varying comfort levels. Many women (42%) did use telehealth, with the highest group being those ages 18-24 (57%) and the lowest being women over age 75 (36%). In the younger group, 65% felt they got the same care as in-person, while only 45% of the women over 75 felt that way.
While the advantages of telehealth were evident, with a number of women appreciating the lack of travel and waits in a waiting room, many also commented that they missed the connection they feel in-person and that some tests just aren’t feasible, such as listening to lungs or heart.
A high percentage of women (58%) overall plan to get the vaccine for themselves and their families as soon as its available. Sixty-four percent of women over the age of 55 and 74% of women between 18-24 years old are planning to get the vaccine.
“A COVID-19 vaccine offers the greatest chance for us to emerge from this pandemic and return to some semblance of a normal life,” said Lund. “Given the speed at which the industry is developing a viable vaccine, the window to generate support for universal vaccination is relatively small and closing quickly. If we can’t get enough people vaccinated, the gains we’re all hoping for may be much smaller than we expect. This will require education, encouragement and engagement.”
The survey found that up to 36% of women have increased their alcohol consumption since the pandemic started. Given the link between alcohol consumption and certain cancers and health conditions, including mental health, the team is concerned that without regular screenings, these conditions could manifest.
Overall the biggest mental health concern was worry over someone in their family getting the virus (23%) – consistent with our previous findings that women are putting themselves after everyone else. The lowest concern was being stressed about a health condition that could have been prevented or treated differently (3%) – which further indicates women are not concerned about missing preventative care.
“Good health is so much more than physical—it’s mental and financial as well,” said Sarah Smith, content director of Prevention. “That’s why the BeHealthiHer movement continues to be crucial. We want women to remember that taking care of themselves is as important as taking care of others. Every woman deserves to be at the top of her own list of priorities.”
For more about #BeHealthiHer and to get involved with the campaign, visit https://www.facebook.com/BeHealthiHER/.
Created by GCI Health and HealthyWomen, the #BeHealthiHer Movement launched in 2017 to help women prioritize their health and well-being, so they can ultimately become a “healthier her” – for themselves, their families and society. The goal of the HealthiHer movement is to improve the lives of women by educating, engaging and inspiring them to get healthier, stay healthier and live more vital lives. The program offers tips, inspiration and expert advice for women on how to take steps to #BeHealthiHer. To join the supportive community, visit: https://www.facebook.com/BeHealthiHER/.
About GCI Health
GCI Health is one of the most highly recognized global integrated healthcare communications agencies in the world, with recent industry honors including being named a top Agency of the Decade by PRovoke Media, 2020 PRWeek Creative Agency of the Year, 2019 MM&M Midsize Agency of the Year, and several Global Best Place to Work For awards. At GCI Health, we are Inspired by People. We share our clients’ desire to improve the health of all people around the world and work tirelessly to contribute to their ambitious goals. Our approach to communications is rooted in looking at all stakeholders – patients, caregivers, healthcare providers, policymakers, reporters and payers – as people with distinct perspectives that shape how they think about health. We create breakthrough, people-driven programs that drive tangible results for our clients and the people they serve. And we carefully curate a culture that is catalyzed by the belief that people should be as successful in their personal lives as they are in their professional ones. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
HealthyWomen is the nation's leading independent, nonprofit health information source for women. Our mission is to educate women to make informed health choices for themselves and for their families, providing objective, research-based health information to our audience. For 30+ years, millions of women have turned to HealthyWomen for answers to their most personal health care questions. To learn more, please visit www.HealthyWomen.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
The ultimate live-better handbook, Prevention is a trusted go-to guide that motivates its millions of readers to feel their best, head to toe, inside and out. For 70 years, Prevention has been the dominant thought leader in the health and wellness space, delivering authoritative information, expert insight and fresh, actionable advice.