Materia Medica Malaysiana

September 30, 2008

Malaysians not ready to let Internet play doctor

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:40 pm

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Politics is not the only hot topic on the Internet: many Malaysians also turn to the World Wide Web for a first opinion on health ailments.
A survey shows that more than a third of Malaysians believe that Internet information will improve their knowledge and ability in caring for their health.
But doctors remain the number one source of advice on health for 52 per cent of the 500 adult Internet users surveyed in Malaysia.
More than half the Malaysians who responded to the global online survey, conducted in April by the Nielsen Company with the Association of the European Self-Medication Industry, hoped more health education was made available to them.
A total of 28,253 Internet users in 51 countries were interviewed to decipher consumer attitudes and consumption habits of non-prescription medicines as well as cultural factors that influence consumer behaviour towards self-medication and treatment of minor ailments.
Nielson Company Malaysia managing director Paul Richmond said: “At a time when governments all over the world are increasingly looking for consumers to take responsibility for their health and self-care, consumers still expect their doctor to play a key role in helping them to take better care of their health and minor ailments.
“When asked what would help them in understanding treatment of minor ailments in the future, one in two people said they would like more support from their doctor.”
Consumers in Asia Pacific (57 per cent) led by Hong Kong, Korea and the Philippines topped global rankings in wanting more advice and support from their doctor, while 53 per cent of Latin Americans said they would like more health education.
Emerging markets in Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe topped global rankings for wanting clearer labelling and information on packaging.
The survey also showed that 65 per cent of Malaysians would rather wait to see if a minor ailment gets better on its own before treating it, while 30 per cent instantly self-medicate at the first sign of sickness.
A minority of five per cent would let their body fight the illness and not take medicine at all.
Richmond said the Malaysian results were in line with international insights which saw 65 per cent of respondents preferring to monitor their symptoms first before taking medicines for minor ailments, particularly in Korea, Germany, Austria and Denmark.
“Conversely, three in 10 global consumers take medication for such minor ailments as head-aches, colds and indigestion as soon as they start to feel unwell.
“This is most common in Central and Eastern European countries and also above average in Latin America and North America.”
Richmond said a Nielson healthcare survey last year showed that headache, cold, backache and sleeping problems were the most common ailments globally.
“Malaysians were more susceptible to heartburn and flu, with about four in 10 having suffered from either one within a month prior to the survey.”
“Our latest consumer survey demonstrated a need and demand for more health education and communication from all sectors of the healthcare industry, from doctors and pharmacists to over-the-counter medicines manufacturers and health media, to help consumers understand treatment of minor ailments and medicines better.
“Malaysians in particular aren’t about to dice with danger when it comes to choosing a non-prescription medicine to treat minor ailments, with 59 per cent ranking ‘safety’ as a priority.
“Another 47 per cent relied on confidence in the product while 37 per cent banked on the effectiveness of the medicines.”

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