A survey by PIF member PAGB shows the public want to embrace self care but need the tools and infrastructure to help them.

Taking care taking control: Self-care attitudes 2022 details the findings from a UK-wide survey of more than 2,000 adults. 

The results show a lack of confidence and knowledge to care for the most common self-treatable conditions:

  • 52% do not feel confident in treating backache
  • 23% would not feel comfortable self treating a headache
  • A third would be uncertain about how to treat constipation (34%) and diarrhoea (33%)

More than a quarter of people (27%) said they thought it was acceptable to go to A&E and use GP services for conditions they could treat themselves at home.

PAGB chief executive Michelle Riddalls said: “Our survey reveals an alarming lack of confidence and knowledge around self care for everyday ailments and highlights the threat this poses to struggling frontline health services. 

“People need to be empowered to self care. We know it can be done." 

Changes since the pandemic

The PAGB said a coordinated campaign by NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care had a positive effect on confidence and ability to self care during the pandemic.

This now needs to be replicated across all self-treatable conditions.

However, there has been a drop in the number of people saying they are likely to self-care when compared to the 2020 survey.

Fewer people also said they would seek advice from pharmacists for common ailments – 44% compared to 47% in 2021.

“While this is an urgent call to action for the Government and NHS to drastically improve self-care education, this cannot be achieved in isolation," said Michelle. 

"Industry and pharmacy have a role to play in improving self-care education. 

"An important part of self care is making healthcare understandable and accessible; only then will people feel confident in looking after their own health. 

"Four out of five people (81%) agree with this and believe we need more self-care education."

Read more and download the full report here.