Global: How many people conduct their own treatment research?

Rishad Dsouza
January 05, 2022, 12:16 PM GMT+0

A number of consumers use the information provided by online health platforms such as HealthLine and WebMD to research possible treatment options on their own. Data from YouGov Profiles allows us to examine the shares of consumers globally who research their own treatment options before consulting a doctor about the same.

In this piece, we focus on consumers from the United States, Brazil, Great Britain, South Africa, and China.

Consumers in South Africa and the US are most likely to conduct their own preliminary research, with almost seven in ten consumers in each of those markets saying they “definitely agree” or “tend to agree” with the statement: "I research treatment options on my own, then ask my doctor about them".

In Brazil and Britain, over two in five consumers (43%) say they look up treatment options on their own before consulting a doctor. Agreement levels were significantly lower in China, where only a quarter of consumers (26%) agreed with the statement.

However, China also logged a very low rate of disagreement (26%), with consumers in South Africa (16%) also significantly less likely to check for treatment options online. This is because almost half of consumers in China say they neither agree nor disagree with the statement (48%).

Comparing those who research with those who don’t (US)

Those who say they research treatment options before talking to their doctor are generally more in tune with health-related matters. For instance, in the US half of those who conduct their own research say they often choose diet or healthy versions of products, compared to only a third of those who don’t (50% vs 34%). They are also more likely to watch their calories (35% vs 22% of those who don’t research treatment options on their own).

They’re also more inclined to make health choices without consulting a doctor; half of them say taking supplements without a doctor’s recommendation is totally fine (vs 38%).

This group also appears to be more internet savvy, generally speaking. More than a half of them (54%) say they are experts at finding bargains online compared to 38% of those who don’t research treatment options on their own. Half of them (53%) say they are interested in trying the latest technology products, services and apps (vs 40%).

Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles.

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