A sense of reserve amongst GPs means that they may avoid bringing up sensitive issues with patients for fear of upsetting them, new research from Aviva suggests. According to information from the latest Health of the Workplace study, personal hygiene issues top the list, with more than half (59%) of GPs unprepared to raise this with their patients, but evidence suggests more serious conditions such as smoking (13%), alcohol misuse (19%) and obesity (47%) are being swept under the carpet too.
Given all the recent debate over financing of public health and the strain placed on the public purse due to current lifestyles, it is worrying that over two in five GPs have avoided advising a patient that they are obese. This number rises further still when it relates to the weight of a patient's child - half would keep quiet in these circumstances. The situation is compounded as patients also frequently fail to raise issues with their GP, with half never discussing any general health concerns with their doctor, including fear of obesity.
To make matters worse, many patients also show an alarming lack of knowledge of some basic health indicators. Although over half knew their weight, the vast majority of the rest only had a vague idea. With two thirds unaware of their blood pressure level and 22% having no idea of what constitutes a healthy BMI; weight-related health issues could go undetected unless a doctor steps in.
Dr. Doug Wright at Aviva says, "Although it can be difficult to raise personal issues about weight or lifestyle, allowing them to remain unchecked can be costly in the long run. GPs are tremendously busy and under pressure to deal with high numbers of patients and a growing administrative workload. It is important that individuals continue to be encouraged to take more control of their own health."