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Generational Differences on Health

By October 4, 2016Commentary

WebMD commissioned a survey of over 1000 US consumers on their attitude toward certain health and health care issues.   (WedMD Survey)   The survey divided respondents into Millenials, aged 18 to 35, GenXers, aged 36 to 51, and baby boomers, aged 52 to 70.  There are 53.5 Millenials in the work force, 52.7 million GenXers and around 46 million baby boomers.  As would be expected, the younger workers have some different attitudes toward work and well-being.  40% of Millenials say they work more than they should and 36% say they never have time to do the things they want to do, compared with 29% of GenXers and 20% of Boomers who believe they work too much and 29% of GenXers and 13% of Boomers who say they don’t have enough free time.  In terms of interacting with health professionals, Millenials value speed and convenience, probably because they feel time-stressed.  The older generations are more concerned about personal interaction and relationship.  Consistent with this, Millenials are also much more likely to use a digital health capability.  45% say they currently do so and another 34% plan to do so, while only 33% of GenXers and 14% of Boomers use them and only 26% and 10% plan to do so.  About 20% of GenXers and baby boomers say they have no interest in digital health, compared to only 10% of Millenials.  Millennial are more likely to engage in good health behaviors.  72% say they exercise at least two times a week, about the same as GenXers, but more than the 57% of Boomers who do so.  They also are more likely to consider themselves to be of average weight and to be very healthy than are the older cohorts.  And they have a higher awareness of employer-sponsored wellness programs at 71% versus 56% of GenXers and 49% of baby boomers.  The findings suggest an ongoing shift toward convenience as a major driver of health service selection and to use of mobile and other computer technologies if they facilitate that convenience.

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