US Insights

Millennials think doctors are failing their families

Kathy Annunziata

VP of Research Services for Health Outcomes

Health 10.06.2016 / 08:00

Young hand holding older hands

Family members who make their household healthcare decisions, especially Millennials, increasingly turn to nontraditional channels

Family members who make the healthcare decisions for their households, and particularly Millennials, say doctors are not spending enough time with them during visits and are not focusing enough on health and preventive care, a new Kantar Health survey shows. As a result, the decision-makers feel compelled to seek information from nontraditional channels.

This is especially true for Millennials, the largest living generation at age 18 to 34, because Millennials are often key healthcare decision-makers both for themselves and for other generations in their families. Among those Millennials who are their family’s “Health Activators,” 23% say they make decisions for a spouse or partner, 35% make decisions for young kids, and 45% make decisions for their own parents, their in-laws, and other family members.

Key Numbers

  • 45% of Millennials make healthcare decisions for parents or in-laws
  • 35% make healthcare decisions for their kids
  • 25% make decisions for a spouse or partner

They view the system as "sick care" versus "healthcare" and tend to rely on social media and word of mouth as their key sources of healthcare information. Across four generations tested (including Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation), Millennials are the least likely to feel their doctor is very attentive to their needs and concerns, and to say their doctor knows all about the over-the-counter medications they use. They are the most likely generation to say they prefer to self-treat rather than see a doctor for a prescription, see what their family and friends think of a medication before they try it; and take other people’s medications even if they’re not prescribed

Because healthcare decision-makers believe doctors don’t spend enough time with them and don’t focus on overall health and preventive care, each succeeding generation of decision-makers is distancing themselves from having a trusted healthcare provider. Millennials in particular trust non-traditional resources and need more credible, self-directed information and more freely given opinions on health and wellness matters than any other generation.

Kantar Health’s findings are presented in a new report, Edge of Insight: Health Activators: Key Influencers Who Drive Healthcare Decisions, which explores who is making healthcare decisions, what they need to effectively make these decisions, and how that decision-making affects their lives. The analysis is based on a custom follow-up online survey to Kantar Health’s National Health and Wellness Survey (NHWS) fielded among 9,218 respondents in the US, UK, Germany, Japan and Brazil.

Other key findings in the study include: 

  • Healthcare decision-makers challenge common stereotypes; they cross generations, include both men and women, and make decisions for more than just their immediate family. 
  • Decision-makers don’t differentiate between “health” and “wellness.” Health is more than just being free of illness; it also includes being physically fit, happy, well-rested and free of stress.
  • Despite making many decisions for themselves and others, they are often not fully knowledgeable about keeping themselves and their loved ones healthy. Because of this, they are not always confident in their decisions. 
  • The responsibility of being a decision-maker for others’ health affects their work productivity and activity levels. Family healthcare decision-makers make, on average, 11 decisions for those in their care.

As the healthcare industry shifts toward partnering and engaging with consumers, it needs to think differently about how to reach these health and wellness decision-makers and what to say to them. Who is making decisions, and the age of the decision-maker, influence the healthcare needs and issues being addressed.


Source: Kantar Health

Editor's Notes

Custom follow-up online survey to Kantar Health’s National Health and Wellness Survey (NHWS) fielded among 9,218 respondents in the US, UK, Germany, Japan and Brazil. Journalists, for inquiries or to speak with the expert, contact us. Follow @Kantar and sign up for our insight alerts.

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