NOTE: The following is an excerpt from TeleVox’s Healthy World report, “A Fragile Nation in Poor Health”, which reveals the majority of Americans fail to follow their doctors’ advice, and uncovers a significant gap in our nation’s healthcare system – lack of patient care between doctor visits. Download it HERE!
Women have a tendency to focus on taking care of others before they take care of themselves.
Between dropping off and picking up children at school and taking them to and from various extracurricular activities, women typically work, volunteer and manage the household. As if that’s not enough, many women have taken on the responsibility of caring for aging parents or other family members.
It’s no surprise A Fragile Nation in Poor Health revealed more than half (53%) of women nationwide say their overall personal health is not in good shape, and one in five women nationwide (20%) say they are struggling to be healthy.
This “all about everyone else” lifestyle is one reason that obesity, smoking and chronic diseases — including depression — are steadily increasing in women.
What about me?
It’s something most women think, but few women actually put themselves first. Some are too tired, some simply don’t have time; whatever the reason, women aren’t taking the appropriate actions to help themselves feel better. In fact, when they squeeze in a visit to the doctor, more than 8 out of 10 women (81%) admit they don’t follow treatment plans they’ve been given by their physician exactly as prescribed.
This is particularly alarming because many of the medical conditions that take the lives of women are preventable. Heart disease is by far the number one killer of women in the U.S. The Women’s Heart Foundation reports that 8.6 million women worldwide die from heart disease each year, and that 8 million women in the U.S. are living with heart disease. Of those women who have heart attacks, 42% die within a year.
To prevent heart disease, doctors often tell women to quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress levels, become more physically active, and adopt a healthful diet low in saturated fats and high in soluble fiber. On the surface, this prescription for improved health seems feasible. Yet, women continue to ignore their doctor’s advice. Perhaps it’s because they are so busy taking care of everyone else they fail to take care of themselves.
What would help?
Arguably, more than anyone, women need support from their physicians to improve and maintain their health. Nearly two in five (39%) women who feel they could better follow their prescribed plans would be likely to do so if they received encouragement from their doctors between visits to stay on course. And, more than one-third (34%) of women would follow instructions better if they received reminders from their doctors via email, voicemail or text telling them to do something specific, like take medication or check blood sugar levels.
Women want doctors who genuinely care about their health, and they need physicians who are attentive, receptive and accessible. They need physicians who check in on them between visits.
Women want to know someone is helping them stick to their treatment plan — whether that’s through emails providing information about their condition and offering encouragement to stay the course, text messages that remind them to take their medication or exercise, or voicemails encouraging them to stick to their healthy diet. It’s these small but meaningful touches between doctor visits that make a big difference to the millions of women across the nation who need to be constantly reminded to take time for themselves and make their personal health a priority.