Meet Dr. Donnica Video Introduction TV Appearances

Diseases & Conditions Today on DrDonnica.com Clinical Trials Decisionnaires FAQs Top Tips Fast Facts Debunking Myths News Alerts Celebrity Speak Out Guest Experts Women's Health Champions Books Women's Health Resources

Mission Privacy Policy Sponsors Press Room What's New? Contact Us

This website is accredited by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.


Hope Award

Send to a Friend

Are Americans Taking Health Care Into Their Own Hands?

A new survey (3/01) from the Consumer Healthcare Products Associations confirms that Suzanne Somers isn't the only one rejecting her doctors' opinions:  Americans are increasingly relying on themselves rather than on physicians when feeling under the weather.  Following a growing trend toward self-reliance, Americans say they are increasingly comfortable managing their own health care needs.  Among the findings of this survey:

  • 59 percent of Americans say they are more likely to treat their own health condition now than they were a year ago.
  • 73 percent would rather treat themselves at home than see a doctor, and 62 percent say they would like to do more of this in the future.
  • 96 percent say they are generally confident about the health care decisions they make for themselves.

"Self reliance is a dominant theme of American lifestyles this millennium, especially in health care," said Michael Maves, MD, MBA, President of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.  "While there is no substitute for a physician, Americans are taking control of minor medical problems with safe, reliable over-the-counter medications."

In fact, Americans say they are more likely to take an over-the-counter medication to treat common ailments (77%) than to wait to see if the problems go away on their own (69%).  Nearly 80 percent of Americans report using an over-the-counter medication in the past year to treat at least one of the ailments they suffer from - almost twice the number that either consulted a physician or took a prescription medication.

While relying heavily on over-the-counter medications, consumers understand that these products must be used properly.  An overwhelming majority say they take the necessary precautions, such as reading directions before using a product for the first time (95%), examining labels to help choose medications (89%) and reviewing possible side effects and interactions (91%). 

To ensure that consumers continue to use products safely, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association recommends the following four-point plan for using over-the-counter medications:

  1. Always read product labels.
  2. If you have questions, talk to a doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
  3. Never misuse over-the-counter medications by taking them longer or in higher doses than the label recommends.  Symptoms that persist are a clear signal it is time to see a doctor. 
  4. Discontinue use and ask a doctor if you have a reaction to a medication.

More than 600 products are now available over the counter because the Food and Drug Administration has determined that consumers can use them safely and effectively without requiring a doctor's prescription.  In recent years, products to treat baldness, yeast infections and migraine - once available only with a doctor's prescription - have become available over the counter.  Attempts to make products like oral contraceptives available over the counter, however, have been resisted.

The survey showed that Americans rely heavily on friends, family and the Internet for basic health information.  When it comes to minor health issues, 27 percent consult family and friends as their top source of information, followed by physicians (20%).  Although a much newer resource, 7 percent rely on the Internet when it comes to minor health issues.  For serious health concerns nothing replaces a physician. Younger people are much more likely than their elders to rely on friends and family for advice on how to deal with every day health problems.

Americans also rely on nutritional supplements to maintain good health.  The survey showed that the majority of the public (57%) says they are either actively using dietary supplements or gathering information about them.  More than eight in 10 Americans who take dietary supplements say they are satisfied with the results. Mature Americans and women are more likely to be currently familiar with alternative medicines, and African Americans and Hispanic Americans show the highest level of interest in becoming more familiar with alternative medicines in the future. 

This survey was conducted on behalf of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the 120-year-old trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of nonprescription, over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplement products.  The findings are based on 1,505 interviews conducted via telephone by Roper Starch Worldwide from January 8-24, 2001.  The results of the survey can be projected to the entire U.S. population with a margin of error of +/-2.6 percent.  Hispanic Americans and African Americans were over-sampled in the research to insure that findings for these groups are projectable. For more information on this survey, go to www.chpa-info.org.

Created: 4/26/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

All the content contained herein is copyrighted pursuant to federal law. Duplication or use without
the express written permission of DrDonnica.com subjects the violator to both civil & criminal penalties.
Copyright © 2006 DrDonnica.com. All rights reserved.

Home | Today on DrDonnica.com | Meet Dr. Donnica | TV Appearances | Clinical Trials
Diseases & Conditions | Decisionnaires | Celebrity Speak Out | Guest Experts | Women's Health Champions
FAQs | Women’s Health Resources | Archive | Books & Tapes | Site Certification | Advanced Search
Mission | What’s New? | Press Room | Privacy Policy | Sponsors | Partners | Contact Us