Although Swiss are the most content people in terms of the quality of their healthcare, they think that their healthcare system suffers from similar issues as other healthcare systems in the world not treating mental and physical health equally.
These are findings of Ipsos’ 30-country surveys: Global Health Service Monitor, that explores the biggest health challenges facing people today and how well-equipped people think their country’s healthcare services are to tackle them (run between 30th August and 3rd September 2021) and Ipsos Predictions (run between from October 22 and November 5, 2021).
1. Top health concerns in Switzerland
Coronavirus remains the biggest health problem facing people around the world (selected by 70% of people across all 30 countries), followed by cancer (34%) and mental health (31%).
Similarly, in Switzerland, the Coronavirus is a top health concern (65%). However, stress records above-average levels of concern among Swiss people (31%), putting this health issue on the second place. Cancer is on the third place (29%) and mental health on forth, being only slightly behind cancer (28%).
There are, also, generational and gender differences in perception of the top health concerns. Namely, women and people below 50 years old tend to perceive mental health issues and stress as top health concerns more often than men and the oldest generation.
High concern with stress and mental health are probably impacted by belief that a full return to normal is still elusive.
In October and November, before the discovery of the omicron variant, across the 33 countries surveyed, two-thirds expected that a return to normal pre-COVID life is still more than six months away – if it ever happens. Only 14% said their life has already returned to normal while 20% expected it will be the case within the next six months. Situation is similar in Switzerland, where seven in 10 expect that they won’t be able to return to their normal pre-COVID life before at least six more months.
The public is divided on what would be the best indicator that the pandemic is ending and that major restrictions can be lifted in their country.
Among Swiss people, 32% say it’ll be when at least 75% of the population have been vaccinated, 13% say it’ll be when transmission of the virus has completely stopped, and 14% say it is when hospitals have had normal operations without staffing or equipment shortages for at least one month. In addition, 11% say it’ll be when there are fewer than 10 new cases for every million people per day and 5% say it’ll be when there are fewer than two deaths for every million people per week. And tellingly, 11% say they just don’t know. Meanwhile, 9% say the pandemic has already come to an end.
2. Trust and satisfaction with healthcare system in Switzerland
Despite the additional strain that the pandemic has placed on healthcare systems, positive ratings and levels of trust in healthcare services have, on average, not been damaged across countries. Furthermore, Switzerland is on the top of the list of 30 countries in trust in the healthcare system.
Compared to the global average where one in two (51%) show trust in the healthcare system in the country, in Switzerland almost 3 in 4 adults (74%) trust that the healthcare system will provide them with the best treatment.
This high level of trust reflects a positive perception of the Swiss healthcare system on a variety of aspects: a large majority, 76% think that information about healthcare services is readily available when somebody needs it and 74% think that about information on how to look after one’s health (compared to 55% and 57% on global average respectively), 70% think that it is easy to get an appointment with doctors in the local area (compared to 48% global average) and only 28% think that waiting times to get an appointment with doctors are too long (compared to 60% global average).
Switzerland is also one of the most content countries about the quality of its healthcare together with Australia and just behind Singapore who is on the first place.
Because of the already good perceived quality of the healthcare system, the majority of Swiss people (61%) think that the situation will not change in the coming years. One in four (24%) think that Swiss healthcare services will further improve and only 15% expect them to deteriorate. This is in line with the situation in other developed countries.
Namely, Switzerland takes a similar position as Australia, Canada and Sweden, on question if the healthcare system in the country provides the same standard of care to everyone (51% compared to global average 39%).
While globally, main challenges of healthcare systems lay in access to treatment/ waiting times, this is not the primary concern of Swiss people.
Lack of staff (44%) and costs (37%) are perceived to be the two issues that the Swiss public think healthcare systems need to improve on most. Next are ageing populations (34%) and bureaucracy (28%). Only 12% of Swiss named access to treatment and waiting time as the challenge which puts Switzerland on this aspect on the bottom of the list of 30 countries included in the study.
3. Mental health – how important is it and how is it treated?
However, although Swiss are the most content people in terms of the quality of their healthcare, they think that their healthcare system suffers from similar issues as other healthcare systems in the world not treating mental and physical health equally.
On average, eight in 10 (79%) across 30 countries say they consider their mental and physical health to be equally important when it comes to their personal health. The situation in Switzerland is similar to the global average with 75% of Swiss people considering their mental and physical health equally important.
However, despite the widespread agreement that mental and physical health are equally important to an overall picture of health, people are less likely to think that their country’s healthcare systems treat them equally: 35% globally say this is the case, while 42% say that physical health is treated with greater importance. Only 9% think that mental health is treated as more important. In Switzerland, the situation is similar with 36% who think that healthcare system in their country treat mental and physical health with equal importance while a larger proportion (39%) think healthcare treats physical health with greater importance.
The World Health Day was a good opportunity to raise awareness on mental health in general, especially in time when continuous stress provoked by long-lasting pandemic impact our lives to a great extent. The question remains on how we can get better support from healthcare systems on this important aspect of our wellbeing.