NHS health check patient insight: Qualitative research
Summary of findings
1. General attitudes towards health
- Health is important, but back of mind for the majority until something ‘goes wrong’.
- It is seen as ‘hard’ to improve healthy lifestyle and ‘easy’ to slip.
- Benefits are NOT immediately apparent/real, so we need to create ‘evidence’ of change.
- Attitudes do seem to shift with age (mortality!!)
- We have to work hard to make change the EASIEST option, REAL, ACHIEVEABLE & FUN
2. Views of GP Practices
- Respect for GP a real issue for light users.
- However, when it is serious GPs still highly trusted
- Practice nurses much more appreciated.
- So, Nurses much better placed to engage patients, discuss broad issues, perform test and then refer to GP as necessary.
- For Healthy Living support/advice surgery attitudes must change – people must be, and feel, welcomed and valued.
- It must be clear that sufficient time and importance is placed on visit by all practice staff.
- If the above isn’t achieved, then Health Check ‘reputation’ will be damaged.
3. The Health Check: Expectations & Reactions
- In principle people like the idea of a ‘Health Check’ and see it as helping prevent or identify future problems.
- But, there are lots more important things to do that take precedence!
- Communication has to ensure expectation and experience are positive, supportive and value the individual.
- People need a ‘positive’ outcome. Clear advice and conclusions.
- Practices have to ensure sufficient time given to each attendee.
4. The Health Check Communications
Summary of key messages about getting a health check:
- Spending just ½ an hour getting a health check can prevent heart related diseases, add years to your life and make you feel better.
- The trade off between ½ an hour and adding on years/quality puts the enormous benefit into perspective in terms of the little time you have to sacrifice now.
Lifestyle changes – key messages:
- Optimism is a clear trigger.
- Visualise and identify small steps – make it achievable and real.
- Simple, small and grounded steps most effective to feeling that life changes are achievable.
- No such thing as failure! It’s just one day of slower progress, we are not all perfect!
- Help people feel and notice the differences of any recommended life style regimes.
- Simple, clear, positively motivating communication can work.
- Make positive benefits VERY clear.
- National programme endorsement does bring credibility and gravitas (the NHS brand).
- If possible, provide meaningful feedback to take away and a clear, simple, achievable action plan.
The objectives of the research were:
- To understand the initial target audience for the Health Check Programme in more depth
- Explore their general attitudes towards health.
- Understand awareness, views & opinions of vascular risk
- To understand the relevance of a Health Check and reactions to an invitation to attend an assessment at a GPs surgery.
- To explore the motivations & barriers to taking part in the proposed Health Check programme.
- To explore expectations of the Health Check, any follow-up treatment and programme management.
- NHS Leeds face the challenge of persuading everybody aged 40-74 within Leeds (more than 260,000 people) to attend a Health Check AND to access suitable support services for smoking, obesity, exercise, alcohol and the vascular diseases.
- To achieve this effectively, efficiently, consistently and sustainably with quality health outcomes the team adopted a marketing lead approach to the project design and delivery.
- They claim to have taken the ‘patient perspective’ in everything that they have chosen to do and then identified how to make that achievable within the constraints of the NHS.
- A deep understanding of people’s attitudes to their health and health professionals was essential to inform their decisions.
With the aim of using marketing to persuade Leeds residents aged 40-74 to attend a Health Check, and to access suitable support services for smoking, obesity, exercise, alcohol and the vascular diseases, research was required to identify an initial target audience, and to explore expectations of the health check and follow-treatment, and barriers and motivators to attending.
- Group discussions (number not specified) with mixed groups of ‘peers’ to understand the impact of family / friends on attitudes
- Group discussions (number not specified) with single sex, age specific groups (age not specified) who were asked to represent the views of their ‘community’.
- Individual discussions were held with individuals to probe behind the issues raised by the groups.
- 2 video diaries were kept to give an element of anecdotal feel.
- Conducted in 10 ‘deprived’ Leeds neighbourhoods, with adults aged 40-74.
Data collection methodology
Other data collection methodology
10x ‘deprived’ neighbourhoods in Leeds:
- Scott Hall, Chapeltown, Harehills, East End Park, Middleton, Holbeck, Beeston, Armley, Seacroft, Crossgates.