Global Views on Healthcare in 2018

Access to treatment, staffing and cost top the list of worldwide concerns. Comprehensive study covers personal health, technology, information and future expectations.

Consumers’ assessment of the quality of their healthcare varies widely across the 28 countries covered in an Ipsos Global Advisor survey of more than 23,000 adults. Globally, 45% rate the quality of the healthcare they have access to in their country as good, 33% rate it as neither good nor poor and 23% as poor. Countries surveyed where consumers most tend to rate the quality of their healthcare positively are Great Britain (73%), Malaysia (72%), and Australia (71%). Poor ratings outnumber good ratings in nine countries, including Brazil (by 39 percentage points), Poland (31 points) and Russia (29 points).

Among problems facing healthcare systems, access to treatment/long waiting times is the one consumers around the world are most likely to view as a major concern (selected by 40%), most of all in Poland (70%), Serbia (68%), Hungary (65%) and Chile (64%). Insufficient staffing is the second most cited major problem globally (by 36%), most of all in Sweden (68%), France (67%), Hungary (63%) and Germany (61%). Cost of accessing treatment third most cited problem worldwide (by 32%) – but ranks at #1 in the U.S. (64%), Malaysia (49%), India (44%), Saudi Arabia (32%), and in a statistical tie with other issues in Australia (38%). Other major issues of concern in certain countries include: poor quality of treatment (59% in Russia), aging population (52% in Japan and 46% in China), lack of investment (over 40% in Argentina, Brazil, Great Britain and Spain), bureaucracy (46% in Mexico), and low standards of cleanliness (30% in India and South Africa).

Views about the future of healthcare differ widely across countries as optimism prevails in emerging countries (especially China, India, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and throughout Latin America) while pessimism dominates in many developed countries (especially in Western Europe).  Globally, optimists outnumber pessimists on the availability of treatments for various health conditions the quality of one’s healthcare and the availability of providers (by 29, 18 and 15 percentage points, respectively), but pessimists outnumber optimists on the cost of one’s healthcare by four points.

Opinions about interactions with individual healthcare professionals tend to be more favorable than those of the health care system.  Majorities of adults globally agree that, the last time they saw a healthcare professional, they were treated with dignity and respect (60%), they were taken seriously (56%), they were shown respect for their values, preferences or expressed needs (55%), they were accepted for who they were (55%), their safety was a priority (52%), and they knew what to expect from their doctor (52%). However, the study findings suggest that many patients do not have a close relationship with their providers. Globally, less than half of all respondents agree that the provider they last saw know them as a person (36%), or that they know that doctor very well (37%), or that the doctor showed them emotional support (40%). Looking at 16 healthcare experience attributes, the countries surveyed showing the highest average ratings are India, the U.S., Malaysia, Australia and Canada. Those with the lowest ones are Japan, Russia, South Korea, Peru and Brazil.

Globally, 89% of adults surveyed ever consult a primary care physician (including 70% at least once a year), 89% ever consult a dentist (including 63% at least once a year). Three in four adults ever visit an optometrist or ophthalmologist (75%) and the same proportion of women ever visit an Ob/Gyn (74%).  Less than half ever call upon the services of a physical or occupational therapist (46%), an alternative medicine professional (40%), a mental health professional (38%), or an audiologist (37%). Two thirds (65%) ever consult any other type of medical specialist or healthcare professional. Frequency of consultation with each type of provider varies greatly across countries.

Globally, one half (49%) agree they get all the medical care they need while one quarter (24%) disagree and another quarter (27%) neither agree nor disagree. Countries with the largest proportions of adults disagreeing they get all the care they need are Russia (44%), Peru (44%), Poland (42%) and Chile (40%) – contrasting with Germany (only 11%) as well as Belgium, Australia and Great Britain (12% all). Compared to medical care, a slightly lesser proportion globally (46%) agree they get all the dental care they need while 28% disagree.

Over half of all adults surveyed globally (56%) agree they are in good health while one in six (17%) disagree and one in four (27%) neither agree nor disagree. Among the countries surveyed, those with the highest levels of reported good health are India (70%), Serbia (68%) and Saudi Arabia (67%) while those with the lowest levels are Hungary (47%), Poland (48%) and Russia (49%).

Globally one third (34%) say they have a long-standing condition, illness or health condition that limits them in some way. Russia is by far the country with the highest proportion of adults reporting a long-standing condition (57%), followed by Hungary (43%) and Sweden (42%). Italy has the lowest proportion (22%), followed closely by Japan (23%) and Mexico (23%).

Globally, cancer ranks as the #1 public health concern with obesity a far second. Half of adults (52%) across 28 countries consider cancer to be among the three biggest health issues in their country, while one third (33%) do so for obesity and one in four for mental health (27%), stress (25%), and diabetes (23%). Cancer ranks as one of the top three concerns in every single country surveyed.

Globally, only 10% report having ever used telemedicine. Generally speaking, reported experience is far more common in emerging countries of Asia and the Middle East and in the United States than it is in Europe.  Among the 10% who have used it, about two thirds say they would use it again and one third say they wouldn’t.  Globally, 44% say they haven’t used it but would try it.

Globally, 12% say they currently use a connected health device or tool to manage their health, 15% say they have used one, but are not using any now, and 68% say they have never used one – the other 6% do not know. The five countries where usage is highest are the same as with telemedicine: China (28%), India (23%), Saudi Arabia (22%), Malaysia (18%) and the U.S. (15%).

Doctors and other healthcare professionals are the primary go-to source of information about healthcare, symptoms of diseases and treatments: it is the only one which is used by a majority of all adults globally (58%). It is the #1 source in every single country except Japan and Saudi Arabia. The other sources most commonly used are online search engines (43%), family and friends (37%), pharmacists (34%), online encyclopedias (22%) and online medical information tools (22%).

The findings come from surveys conducted in 2018 on the Ipsos Global Advisor platform using the Ipsos Online Panel system. One of the surveys (questions A1-A5) was conducted between April 20 and May 4, 2018 with 20,767 adults across 27 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States. The other survey (comprising questions B1-B13) was conducted between May 25 and June 8, 2018 with 23,249 adults across 28 countries (the same as above plus Colombia). All survey respondents are aged 18-64 in Canada and the U.S. and 16-64 in all other countries. Data is weighted to match the profile of the population.