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How about health?


Latest update : 2008-05-30

A FRANCE 24/International Herald Tribune/Harris poll shows that Europeans and Americans have similar worries about the evolution of the health system, but diverge in their approach to personal well-being and consumption of health products.


The latest Harris Interactive / France 24 / International Herald Tribune poll shows that adults in the five largest European countries and in the United States have a rather negative view of their respective health care systems, particularly in the US. Their views on other health issues are more diverse.


In all the countries surveyed, the most widely held view is that while there are some good things in the health system, fundamental changes are necessary to make it work better (from 43% in France to 61% in Italy and Spain).


Europeans are less critical than Americans, as 33% of US respondents think that their health system needs to be completely rebuilt compared to only 13% of Spaniards and 15% of Britons. The French seem to be the most satisfied, since 38% of them consider that their health service works well and only needs minor changes.

Standards and costs

In all countries surveyed, a majority considers that the standards of care and treatment are moving in the wrong direction. This is especially true in Germany, where 80% agree with this statement.


Most respondents also consider that the costs of care and treatment are rising too fast. Americans and Germans are most likely to agree with this (89% and 86% respectively).


While 55% of French adults and 48%of Spaniards agree that standards and costs in the public health care system correspond to their needs and expectations, the dissatisfaction is strong in other countries, especially in Germany (72%).


Health and well-being activities


Almost all respondents claim to be currently doing something to improve or maintain their health. In all countries, over half of them say they are drinking more water and eating more fruit and vegetables than before.


Reducing or eliminating alcohol and smoking also seems to be something Europeans and Americans are doing. This is especially true of the Spanish as 51% are currently reducing/eliminating smoking and 49% say they are reducing/eliminating alcohol.


In France, some habits are significantly more widespread than in other countries. This is the case for "Not snacking between meals" (62%), "Limiting sweet products" (54%) and "Limiting salty products" (47%).


Moreover, a strong trend appears regarding the use of food products that boast health benefits (nutraceutical): almost half of Americans (46%) and one quarter of Europeans (between 24% and 30%) say they are consuming nutraceuticals to improve or maintain their health.

Health product consumption and availability

The poll reveals that while 79% of Americans are likely to consume one or several health or well-being products, Europeans and especially Britons are much more moderate in their use of such substances.


The leading health/well-being products are vitamins and trace elements (from 19% of Spaniards to 34% of Britons and Germans use them), with Americans most likely to use them (59%).


In the United States, consumption habits could be related to the ease with which these products can be accessed, as well as more intensive promotion among the general public.


A majority of Germans (61%) and Britons (54%) do not wish to see prescription-only medicines that are used on a daily basis made available over the counter.


Among those products, contraceptives appear as those that could be most eligible to an over-the-counter delivery. Here again, however, opinions are mixed with 40% of French favourable versus only 21% of Britons.



The latest poll was conducted online by Harris Interactive, in partnership with France 24 and The International Herald Tribune, among a total of 6,735 adults (aged 16-64) within France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain and the United-States; and adults (aged 18-64) in Italy, from 30th April to 14th May 2008. The data were weighted, where necessary, by age, gender, education, region and Internet usage to make it representative of the general population profile for each country. Propensity score weighting was applied to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.


Date created : 2008-05-30