GSK Consumer Healthcare report shows poor health literacy a major challenge to self-care

Only 2 in 10 Europeans feel very confident in managing their own health.
By Sara Mageit
06:39 am

GSK Consumer Healthcare and healthcare consultancy Vintura have announced the summary report, The Health-Economic Benefits of Self-care in Europe.

The study, which is based on insights collected in a literature research with around 300 scanned articles and interviews with relevant stakeholders, found four key barriers that Europe must address in order to improve everyday health: health literacy, investment in preventive healthcare, awareness of self-care by healthcare professionals (HCPs) and access to over-the-counter-medicine in some markets.


The report exposed the barriers and opportunities to people managing their everyday health. It found that 80% of Europeans accept that it is their responsibility to manage their own health and are willing to do so but only 2 in 10 feel very confident in managing their own health.

According to the World Health Organization, although annually around 80% of Europe’s health budget has been spent on chronic diseases in past years, only 3% has been spent on prevention.

It also stressed that investing more in health literacy to enable responsible self-care will allow individuals to foster healthy behaviours that contribute to prevention such as staying in good health and detecting a disease at an early stage.

The study also found that 58% of Europeans have access to a pharmacy within 5 minutes, revealing an opportunity to engage with the role of pharmacists in self-care. As the main suppliers of OTC products, the report stated that pharmacists play a key role as enablers and educators of self-care. 

The combination of location and accessibility means that most consumers have ready access to a health professional’s advice, on demand.


Across Europe, healthcare management platforms have been on the rise as no-contact care has been critical in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Self-care app, Healthily recently partnered with, to help users manage wellbeing and find vetted health products and services from home.


Filippo Lanzi, regional head, EMEA GSK Consumer Healthcare, said: “At GSK Consumer Healthcare, we’re well-placed to help redefine the role of self-care in people’s lives through fostering partnership and collaboration and through providing scientifically-backed brands – and we believe this holds a long-term benefit for both individuals and society as a whole.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been encouraging to see the increased importance that many people are now placing on looking after their own health. We would like to harness this increased awareness by doing more to improve health literacy and empower people to manage their everyday health with confidence.

“In times of uncertainty and ‘fake news’, it is our responsibility to provide guidance and clarity to our patients and consumers. If we want to overcome misinformation and improve health literacy, we need to explain science to people in a way they understand, using the right channel, at the right time, so they can make informed decisions and find the products and sources of information they know they can trust.

“Findings from our study show there is a great opportunity to collaborate further with industry, regulators, policy-makers, healthcare professionals, pharmacists and industry to realise the full potential of self-care. And as a leading consumer healthcare company, we believe we should initiate this debate to drive awareness of the value responsible self-care could bring to healthcare systems and societies.”



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