Global Health Service Monitor 2021

Public perceptions of healthcare services have not been adversely affected by the pandemic, according to our 30-country survey. People continue to see coronavirus as the main health problem facing their country, while concern about mental health increases.

The author(s)

  • Natalie Pearson Ipsos Knowledge Centre, UK
  • Simon Atkinson Ipsos Knowledge Centre, UK
  • Nicolas Boyon Public Affairs, US
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The Ipsos Global Health Service Monitor is an annual study that explores the biggest health challenges facing people today and how well-equipped people think their country’s healthcare services are to tackle them. We ran the survey in 30 countries between 30th August and 3rd September 2021.

Key findings include:

  • Coronavirus remains the biggest health problem facing people around the world (selected by 70% of people across all 30 countries, only slightly down on the 72% recorded last year).
  • Half as many (34%) say that cancer is an important health concern in 2021, down from 37% last year. Meanwhile, mental health sees a 5-point increase to 31%, putting it just 3 points behind global concern about cancer.
  • Despite a challenging couple of years for healthcare services, public perceptions are holding up well overall: 53% rate their country’s healthcare services positively, and 51% trust they will receive the best treatment.
  • That said, a majority worldwide (56%) say that their country’s healthcare system is overstretched while access to treatment/waiting times is seen to be the main challenge for healthcare services (41%), followed by lack of staff (39%).

Assessments of healthcare

Worldwide, 53% on average give a positive assessment of their country’s healthcare services. This has increased somewhat since 2020 (50%) and is now well above 2018 levels (45%).

Newly added to the survey, Singapore is the most content about their quality of healthcare (79% say it is good or very good). Just behind are Switzerland (also new to the survey) and Australia (last year’s leader on this measure), both with 78%.

As chart below shows, ratings vary very considerably from nation to nation.

Perceived quality of healthcare has decreased most since 2020 in Canada (-8), Great Britain (-6), Germany (-6), and Hungary (-5). Meanwhile, it has increased in Argentina (+9), Spain (+8), Russia (+7) and Belgium (+6).

Looking ahead, one-third (34%) of our respondents globally think that their country’s healthcare services will improve in the coming years, while 16% expect them to worsen. More developed countries are particularly likely to be in the more pessimistic camp.

This year’s Monitor finds 70% saying that Covid-19 is an important health problem today – only very slightly down from this time last year (72%). It is considered the number one health problem in 25 of the total 30 countries surveyed, with highest scores seen in Malaysia (93%), Peru (90%), Japan (85%), Mexico (also 85%), and Brazil (84%).

Compared to last year, the proportion citing Covid-19 as a top health concern has increased most in South Africa (+20), Japan (+11), Australia (+10), and Mexico (+7). It has decreased most in Chile (-17), Poland (-17), Hungary (-14), China (-12), Belgium (-11) and the Netherlands (also -11).

Mental health is the health concern that sees the greatest increase in prominence among the global public in 2021.

Compared to last year, this has increased most in Spain (+19), Belgium (+13), Brazil (+13), Malaysia (+11), Chile (++9 ) and Italy (+9) and has decreased only in 4 countries (Turkey, Japan, Great Britain, and India).

Read more about global views on mental health in our 2021 World Mental Health Day report.

Healthcare challenges

Access to treatment or waiting times (41%) and a lack of staff (39%) continue to be the two issues that the public think healthcare systems need to improve on most, with around four in 10 selecting these. Next are cost (31%), bureaucracy (26%), a lack of investment in preventative health (23%), and ageing populations (21%).

Other questions in our survey give more detail on some of these challenges. On average, 60% globally say that waiting times to get an appointment with doctors are too long in their country. When it comes to getting a medical appointment in a person’s local area, there appear to be more varied experiences, with 48% on average finding it easy but 28% disagreeing with this.

The countries most concerned about access to treatment/waiting times are:

  1. Poland (68%)
  2. Hungary (61%)
  3. Chile (61%)
  4. Mexico (55%)
  5. Italy (55%)

The countries most concerned about not enough staff are:

  1. Sweden (71%)
  2. Netherlands (66%)
  3. France (63%)
  4. Canada (61%)
  5. = Germany (58%)
    = Hungary (58%)

The countries most concerned about cost of treatment are:

  1. Chile (58%)
  2. US (52%)
  3. Singapore (49%)
  4. Russia (45%)
  5. India (44%)

Outside of the top three issues overall, we see ageing population is the number one challenge for those in China, South Korea and Singapore. The public in Argentina and Brazil are most concerned about lack of investment. Finally, we see poor quality treatment is the top issue in Russia and South Africa.

Read more about a range of public perceptions relating to healthcare services in the full report.

These are the results of a 30-market survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. Ipsos interviewed a total of 21,513 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Israel, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, aged 21-74 in Singapore, and 16-74 in 24 other markets between Friday, August 20 and Friday, September 3, 2021.

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The author(s)

  • Natalie Pearson Ipsos Knowledge Centre, UK
  • Simon Atkinson Ipsos Knowledge Centre, UK
  • Nicolas Boyon Public Affairs, US

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