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Word on the street

Bridging the health literacy gap 

A Bupa Healthwatch Poll has again highlighted the issue of low health literacy in the Australian community.*

The Poll found that around one in four adults diagnosed with a new health complaint said they didn’t understand their condition (22%) or treatment options (25%). As concerning was that more than one in six (17%) said they didn’t understand the results of their medical tests, how to take their medication, or understand any possible side effects.

On a positive note, Australians want to know more about their health, with 80 per cent of people with a new health complaint saying that they wanted more ‘take home’ information from their health professional.

* Galaxy Research conducted an online survey of 1,009 Australians in August 2010.

World on the street

Australians are leaders in health-self-deception 

Australia is a nation in denial about its obesity epidemic, according to the findings of the international Bupa Health Pulse 2011 Survey (PDF, 2MB).*

According to the research, only one third of Australians consider themselves overweight, yet their Body Mass Index (BMI ) revealed six in ten are overweight or obese; placing Australia in third place behind the Americans and Saudis as one of the most obese nations in the survey.

While most Australians agreed that they would like to lose weight (51%) and exercise more (62%), a startling 44 per cent admitted to doing little or no regular exercise.

Dr Bert Boffa, Bupa’s Head of Medical Services, said: “The results highlight a serious disparity between our perception of ourselves and the reality of our behaviour, which is leading many Australians firmly down the path of chronic disease. We need to arm Australians with better tools and information to help them make better informed health choices.”

*Ipsos MORI surveyed a total of 13,373 respondents across 12 countries, including 1,203 Australians, using online panels between 22 April and 23 May 2011.

Young Australians in the dark on sexual health 

Young Australians are unaware of important sexual health facts and it’s putting them at risk, according to results from the Bupa Sexual Health Survey 2011.*

The survey of 18-25 year olds has revealed a series of myths and misconceptions regarding sexual health, highlighting the need for young Australians to stay up-to-date on the latest sexual health information.

One in ten young men surveyed believe the contraceptive pill protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and one in five males are unaware that catching STI could affect their fertility. Nearly half of respondents believe that pap tests can detect STIs, despite widespread health education campaigns highlighting that they are a cancer screening tool.

Dr Stan Goldstein, Bupa’s Head of Clinical Advisory, said arming young Australians with the right knowledge is an important part of helping them make the right sexual health choices.

*Pure Profile conducted an online survey of 603 Australian males and 600 Australian females aged 18-35 during July 2011.