nib survey reveals New Zealand's health screening gap

New partnership to address the challenge

nib survey reveals New Zealand's health screening gap

Life & Health

By Roxanne Libatique

Nearly half of New Zealand's population is not keeping up with essential health screenings, despite a prevalent belief in their own satisfactory health status, according to nib New Zealand's latest survey.

This survey, carried out in early December with 1,000 participants, underscores a concerning trend: a significant portion of New Zealanders underestimates the value of regular health check-ups.

Kiwis fall behind on general health checks

Data from the survey showed a notable lag in adherence to routine health maintenance, with dental and eye exams particularly neglected by 63% and 55% of respondents, respectively.

More alarmingly, 84% overlooked or never pursued skin cancer screenings, a critical oversight given the country's notably high melanoma rates. The research further revealed a reluctance among New Zealanders to engage with established cancer screening programs, including those for prostate, cervical, bowel, and breast cancer.

A deeper dive into the survey results revealed a divide in the perception of the importance of health screenings, with a third of participants indicating a lack of commitment to keeping these checks up to date. This stands in contrast to the higher value placed on health screenings by Māori individuals, compared to their Pakeha peers.

For families, the survey highlighted confusion over the necessary health screenings for children, with 43% of parents unsure and about a quarter questioning the necessity of yearly checks for kids.

Disconnect between perception of health and attitude towards health checks

Despite the gap in health screening participation, over 60% of those surveyed rated their health positively. This optimistic health perception is especially pronounced among men and the elderly, groups traditionally at higher risk for health issues.

nib CEO Rob Hennin pointed out the critical need for proactive health practices to enhance overall well-being.

“At nib, we believe that taking a proactive approach to your health is critical to achieving better health outcomes and, in turn, living healthier and happier lives,” he said.

Barriers to regular health check-ups

The study identified several barriers to regular health screenings, including uncertainty about necessary screenings, cost, the lack of immediate health concerns, and fear of discovering health issues.

Nib partners with Blues rugby team

nib has joined forces with the Blues rugby team to address the barriers to regular health check-ups.

This partnership aims to use the team's influence to encourage New Zealanders, particularly men, to prioritise their health.

The initiative includes various outreach efforts, such as engaging videos featuring Blues players and health check clinics at rugby games and around Auckland, to facilitate easy access to health screenings.

“As professional athletes, our players need to be hyper-aware of their physical and mental health so they can stay match fit and receive the support they need,” said Andrew Hore, chief executive of the Blues. “Kiwis, especially blokes, are notorious for shrugging off health issues and we hope our players can act as role models and encourage more Kiwis to take control of their health and wellbeing by staying up to date with their proactive health screenings.”

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