A global survey has revealed that unless doctors spend more time examining the cause of health problems, medical treatments will prove ineffective.

By Wendy Kay

Posted on September 30, 2019

A global survey has revealed that while the world is getting wealthier and spending more on healthcare and medical services, people are getting sicker with obesity and lack of sleep major contributors.

The findings come from PwC’s Health Research Institute report Action required: The Urgency addressing social determinants of health. Researchers surveyed 8,000 people across the world to discover the impact of social determinants of health (SODH) which include pollution, unstable housing, poverty and isolation.

Lack of sleep was cited by 35% of respondents as being a barrier to a healthy life. While The National Sleep Foundation in the US recommends adults have between seven and nine hours of sleep every night, factors including working multiple jobs, caring for family members, lacking proper housing and suffering from stress contribute to not getting enough.

PwC projects many countries will have more than 68% of their populations registering as obese or overweight by 2025.

PwC’s Australian healthcare consulting leader Nathan Schlesinger told The Sydney Morning Herald that insufficient sleep not only increases a person’s risk of serious medical conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but can also be associated with shortened lifespans.

Other aspects preventing a healthy life included too much time spent using technology (26%), mental health concerns (22%) and lack of time (20%).

Meanwhile, obesity continues to have huge impacts on wellness, with PwC projecting that by 2025, many countries will have more than 68% of their populations registering as obese or overweight.

With more than half (57%) of respondents revealing their doctors had never discussed the important social factors affecting their health, PwC’s global and US Health Industries Leader Kelly Barnes predicts that innovative medical treatments will be ineffective if social support and access to resources are not readily available to help keep people well.

“This is not optional, healthcare and government organisations that don’t act on social determinants will spend more and more money, only to watch health status decline,” she said.