Thursday - July 21, 2016

Australians see economic status as the key barrier to our health

New study into the impact of Australian health self-care attitudes and behaviour reveals

21 July 2016, Sydney, NSW – A staggering 89% of Australians blame poverty and lack of education as the key barriers to looking after their own health(25% strongly agree, 42% agree, 22% slightly agree), with high income earners (55%) being much better at self-care than low income earners (34%), according to a new national survey released just days in advance of International Self-Care Day.1


And, while 8 in 10 Australians believe it is up to the individual to take responsibility for their own health (self-care) and the overall health of the country, only 44% rated their self-care as excellent or good.1


While economic status is seen by the majority as a key barrier to self-care, according to the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) “Many elements of self-care are within reach of everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status,” said Deon Schoombie, CEO of ASMI.


On this International Self-Care Day (24 July 2016) Bayer Australia Ltd and the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) are encouraging all Australians to realise the full potential of self-care on individual health and the health of the nation.


“Self-care include those activities that an individual does with or without the support of a healthcare professional to help maintain health and well-being. Developing strong self-care behaviours doesn’t have to be costly, with so many resources already in place, such as advice and support from pharmacists, simple tracking devices on phones and exercise guidance. While there is always a role for government in creating policies and providing funding, Australians are also not taking simple and cost-effective steps to manage their own health,” said Mr Schoombie.


“The recent election demonstrated just how much of a polarizing issue healthcare is, especially when it comes to funding. What we need is a clear strategy for creating and retaining a sustainable healthcare system and part of that should be how we encourage and support a preventative healthcare approach,” said Mark Sargent, General Manager, Consumer Health, Bayer Australia and New Zealand.


The survey, commissioned by Life Science Company, Bayer, highlights the important role of self-care in improving the health of Australians and the nation, and is part of a global commitment to self-care to improve the sustainability of health systems worldwide.


A lack of motivation was raised in the survey as one of the primary barriers to self-care activities (59%), along with financial resources (65%) for low income earners and lack of free time (65%) for high income earners.1 The barrier of motivational reinforces that the individual has an equally important role to play in changing the healthcare/self-care environment.


While as a nation Australians feel that they are healthy and taking care of their own health, almost two- thirds of the nation is classified overweight or obese,2 and half are living with a chronic disease.3 This suggests a great divide, between how people see their health compared to the harsh reality of how healthy they are.2



John Bell, Self-Care advisor to the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and a practising pharmacist comments “Self-care is all about the individual’s attitude to and responsibility for their own health. Preventative measures to maintain health or prevent disease need to be taken and can be as simple as a daily walk.


“Half of the nation is living with a chronic disease of some form. Evidence shows that almost a third of these cases could be prevented by removing exposure to risk factors such as smoking, being overweight, alcohol use and physical inactivity,” said John Bell.


Key Findings1

·         89% of Australians point to poverty and lack of education as the key barriers to self-care

·         34% of Australians with low incomes (less than $46,000) rate their health as excellent or very good, compared to 55% of high income earners (more than $81,000)

·         For low income earners barriers to self-care are financial resources (65%), lack of motivation (57%)

·         For high income earners key barriers to self-care are lack of free time (65%) and lack of motivation (60%)

·         Only 44% of survey respondents rated their self-care as excellent or very good

·         40% confess to not taking care of their health as well as they should

·         68% are reliant on the advice of GPs and other health professionals to maintain the state of their health

·         Only 48% rated fitness as a priority when it comes to self-care

·         Less than half recognised exercise as a priority to maintaining their health. Only 11% made it a primary goal to improve self-care

·         Almost two-thirds believe self-care has a flow-on effect to the public health system’s ability to cope, due mainly to people admitted to hospitals with “avoidable” lifestyle-related diseases.


“Awareness initiatives such as International Self-Care Day are key in the education and up-skilling of our nation,” said Deon Schoombie, CEO, Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI). “At the heart of this is education; encouraging Australians to take more responsibility for their health and wellbeing, while arming them with the knowledge, skills and tools to succeed.”




About Self Care

A working group organized by the WHO on the occasion of World Health Day 2013 offered the following definition: “Self-care is the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health care provider.”


About the Survey

The research fieldwork was conducted by Maidstone Consulting on behalf of Bayer. The online survey was completed by 1,035 nationally representative Australians aged 18+ between the 24 June –1 July 2016. The adults were nationally representative by gender, state and location (metro and regional). 3


About Bayer: Science For A Better Life

Bayer is world class innovation company with more than 150 year history and core competencies in the Life Science fields of healthcare and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit humans, animals and plants. It has operated in Australia since 1925 and has a long term commitment to the health of Australians, the agricultural industry and the welfare of animals, large and small. In Australia, Bayer currently employs almost 900 people across the country and is dedicated to servicing the needs of rural Australia and the local community. Bayer is deeply committed to research and development and has a strong tradition of innovation with the development and commercialisation of over 5,000 products and services. The company’s focus on people, partnerships and innovation underpins all aspects of its operations, consistent with its mission, “Bayer: Science For A Better Life.”


About ASMI

ASMI is the peak body representing companies involved in the manufacture and distribution of non- prescription consumer healthcare products in Australia. It also represents related businesses including advertising, public relations, legal, statistical and regulatory consultancy companies and individuals.


We promote the best interests of our Members through negotiation, debate, cooperation and information sharing with a wide range of stakeholders in our own region and around the world.

ASMI is a member of the World Self-Medication Industry (WSMI) and our President and CEO sit on the Board of that organisation. WSMI is a non-government organisation made up of over 50 member associations located on all continents of the World, with affiliations to the World Health Organization (WHO). Our membership of WSMI enables us to track and contribute to international trends and developments in consumer healthcare.


For more information please contact:

Samantha Gale

Senior Account Manager, Edelman Public Relations T: +61 (02) 9291 3385

M: +61 (0) 475 921 370



1 Is self-care the new healthcare? Study Into The Impact Of Australian Health Self-Care Attitudes And Behaviour. Maidstone Consulting. Commissioned by Bayer Australia Ltd. July 2016

2 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Risk Factors to health. URL: (last accessed July 2016)

3 Tolhurst, P., Lindberg, R., Calder, R., Dunbar, J., de Courten, M. Australia’s Health Tracker. Melbourne: The Australian Health Policy Collaboration; July 2016.