Pfizer study shows more patient health info needed
The study shows that when US and European patients receive health information on how to manage their condition, nearly two thirds make proactive changes in their behavior based on this information. Additionally, more than three quarters of those who change their behavior perceive a positive impact on their health. The survey also revealed that more than half the patients in Europe feel they do not know enough about their disease and its treatments to confidently manage their health. Furthermore, half of Europeans are concerned their lack of knowledge might be worsening their condition. The research, commissioned by Pfizer, was devised to explore levels of health information received by patients suffering from three chronic diseases - asthma, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The survey, conducted between June and September 2004, gathered the views and experiences of 4,500 patients from eight European countries (Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, UK) and the US. Commenting on the issue of patient information, baroness Sally Greengross, co-chair of the Alliance for Health and the Future, said: "Without question, both patients and the public at large are becoming more interested in, and more knowledgeable about health matters. A more informed population should be celebrated and further encouraged because, as this survey shows, when patients receive information on their condition, a high percentage of them change their behavior leading to a positive impact on health." The survey also established the knowledge levels of all respondents by testing their awareness of basic facts that they might be expected to know about their condition in order to effectively manage it. On the whole, across all three disease areas, US patients displayed greater knowledge of their conditions. For example, just 3% of European heart disease patients displayed an "excellent" knowledge of their condition versus 19% of US respondents. Additionally, there are significant differences in knowledge levels across countries within Europe. For example, 43% of UK diabetes patients displayed "excellent" knowledge of their condition, which was significantly higher than Italy (23%), Germany (17%), Spain (15%) and Poland (4%). Similarly, significantly more UK respondents with asthma showed "excellent" knowledge of their condition than, for example, Poland. Surprisingly, high proportions of respondents from many European countries displayed "poor" knowledge of heart disease, including Spain (92%), Italy (87%), and France (81%). To obtain health information European patients use a wide number of sources including pharmacists, newspapers, TV and radio, books on health and the Internet but, across both Europe and the US, 90% of respondents continue to use doctors and nurses as their main source of health information.