People avoid going to the doctor for many reasons. It's so common that the healthcare industry has come up with a term to define it: avoidance behaviour1. Studies show that around 33% of adults don't go to the doctor, even when it may be necessary2.
Research on why people avoid medical check-ups despite needing them has been one of the key objectives of global health policymakers. There are three main groups of barriers preventing patients from proactively seeking medical check-ups: (1) Financial, (2) Structural, and (3) Cognitive.
In one study, researchers found that:
- 33.3% of people avoided body checks due to prior unfavourable interactions with healthcare providers;
- 24.1% of people avoided body checks due to cost;
- 15.6% because they had time constraints;
- 12.2% didn't see the need to seek medical care;
- 8.3% because they were uninsured;
- 4% said they thought their symptoms would improve on their own over time3.
Nevertheless, avoidance behaviour may have a negative impact not only on your ability to manage your health, but it may increase the burden of care on your family and even have consequences on the economy.
The truth is that preventative health screening and having body checks throughout your life can have long-term positive effects. Those effects include facilitating early diagnosis of disease and treatment, thus preventing premature death, overall improved quality of life, and lower burden of care on your family4.
Keep reading for some of the best reasons you should include body checks into your general health-boosting routine.
Reasons for getting a body check-up in Hong Kong
#1 - Early detection
While it may be scary to go to the doctor and leave with the diagnosis of a disease, the earlier it is detected, the more likely it is that you may receive the appropriate treatment, which increases the potential to manage the condition.
When you know what is causing you to feel the way you do and receive the appropriate treatment, it can improve your quality of life and prevent you from developing more severe complications5.
It's essential that, even if you feel fine, you go for the annual body checks in Hong Kong, as they can help you detect problems before you even experience symptoms.
There are many types of screening tests, specific for those periods in life where certain diseases' risk increases.
For example, when you are 40 years and older, the risk of disease steadily rises. It's the time of your life where it's not only more challenging to maintain a healthy weight, but your body also recovers from disease and injury at a slower rate. It only becomes more of a challenge as the years pass. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the actions you take in your 40s can significantly affect your health in the future because your chances of successful treatment are better.
#2 - Improve your quality of life and protect from future diseases
In one study, researchers found that 17% of patients who went on to be diagnosed with a rectal tumour waited on average a year before having a body check to analyse their symptoms6.
A simple body check-up to determine your colon's health after the age of 40 can provide a significant amount of information on what is going on inside your bowels. If your results are precise, this allows you to make informed decisions about your health and put practices in place to maintain your digestive tract's health. Should the results come back as positive, however frightening it may be, the sooner these changes are detected, the better it is for your prognosis and care.
It's the same for many other chronic diseases. When you look at the top diseases plaguing Hong Kong, namely cancer, heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease like stroke7, having your annual body check can improve the success of the treatment8 and reduce the impact it can have on your quality of life. You can continue participating in the activities you enjoy, staying active, and healthily managing your condition.
#3 - Get emotional and mental health support
A survey of employees in Hong Kong reported that mental health problems were rife in the working population, with low levels of help-seeking9. Mental strain can severely impact your overall health, where inflammation can increase the risk of disease.
A simple body check and assessment by a healthcare provider can help identify these underlying causes of disease and better manage them.
What should I look for in my body check package?
While every adult should attend regular health screenings, body check packages are usually designed for certain age groups. This is because the risk of certain health concerns varies depending on a person’s age. Here is what you should expect from your body check package based on your age.
Under 30 years old
It is never too early to start being in control of your health. While it may be tempting to put off your health tests until you pass the 30 years old mark, it is recommended that you attend your first health screening around the age of 25. Recommended tests include:
- Blood count
- Blood sugar
- Kidney and liver function
- Coronary risk profile
- Hepatitis B
- Pap smear (for women)
- Urine and stool tests
Over 30 years old
As you are settling into your adult life with career and family responsibilities increasing, it is as important as ever to stay on top of your health. Around this age, some silent health risk markers may go unnoticed and cause more serious problems later in your life. At this age, you should look for packages that check for the following:
- Signs of cancer
- Autoimmune diseases
- Hepatitis infections
- Common sexually transmitted diseases
- … as well as the tests recommended for the age group below 30 years old
Over 40 years old
After the age of 40, it is recommended to get a comprehensive health screening every one to two years. This is because prevention and early detection can have a tremendous impact on the quality and length of life. At this stage of life, many packages can be customised to include exactly the tests that you need based on your previous test results and family medical history. Generally, you are likely to be recommended the following tests:
- Key health indicators tested in earlier life stages
- Heart disease risk factors
- Signs of cancer
- The functionality of vital organs (lungs, liver, kidneys, etc.)
- Vitamin or mineral deficiencies
- Ultrasound of the upper abdomen
Help at OT&P
From the information above, we hope that you are encouraged to overcome the barriers that have previously stopped you, and you're about to schedule your body check in Hong Kong.
At OT&P, we have a range of screening and body check packages that can be customised for patients of all ages. Book your next body screening with OT&P Healthcare.
Lund-Nielsen, B., et al. An avalanche of ignoring--a qualitative study of health care avoidance in women with malignant breast cancer wounds. Cancer Nurs. 2011. 34(4):277-85.
Kannan V., & Veazie, P. Predictors of avoiding medical care and reasons for avoidance behavior. Med Care. 2014. 52(4):336-45.
Taber, J., et al. Why do People Avoid Medical Care? A Qualitative Study Using National Data. J Gen Intern Med. 2015. 30(3): 290–297.
Bell, N., et al. Better decision making in preventive health screening. Canadian Family Physician July. 63 (7) 521-524.
Byrne, S. Healthcare avoidance: a critical review. Holist Nurs Pract. 2008 Sep-Oct; 22(5):280-92.
Ristvedt SL, Trinkaus KM. Psychological factors related to delay in consultation for cancer symptoms. Psychooncology. 2005. 14(5):339-50.
Centre for Health Protection. Department of Health. The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Statistics - Non-communicable disease.
Duboyova, T., et al. The impact of the intensity of fear on patient’s delay regarding health care seeking behavior: a systematic review. Int J Public Health. 2010. 55(5): 459–468.
Zhu, S., et al. Health-related behaviours and mental health in Hong Kong employees. Occupational Medicine. 2017.67(1):26–32.