Women in the U.S. make 80% of the healthcare decisions for their family, but in a wildly ironic twist, they are relatively uninformed about their own health issues, a new “health IQ” quiz reveals.
Conducted by MDVIP/Ipsos, the health IQ quiz uncovered shocking statistics regarding women’s current knowledge of women’s health issues. A whopping 94%, or 9 in 10 women who are aged 20 and above, lack knowledge about key women’s health issues including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and menopause.
The shocking quiz results reveal:
91% of women do not know that heart disease is the number one killer of women.
81% of women do not know that Pap smears screen only for cervical cancer.
69% are unaware that drinking alcohol can increase breast cancer risk.
“Women are the cornerstone of a family’s health, often acting as caregivers to their partners, children and aging parents,” Andrea Klemes, DO, FACE, chief medical officer of MDVIP, said in a statement. “But women also need to be proactive and primary advocates for their own health.”
The Root of the Problem
A corresponding survey may provide insight into why women are lacking vital healthcare education. More than 1,400 women were queried about their personal healthcare experiences, and the researchers found 1 in 3 women said they feel rushed during their medical appointments. They also reported their concerns were not taken seriously and wanted their physician to spend more time discussing women-centric health concerns.
Of those surveyed, 8 in 10 women reported barriers that prevent them from taking better care of their own health. These barriers include everything from healthcare coverage and cost, lack of transportation, time and lack of childcare.
Millennials and Gen Z receive insufficient health care, the survey reported. Women between the ages of 20 to 34, are “less engaged” with their health care compared to women of menopausal age. Younger women note scheduling appointments feels like a chore, they put off seeing a physician until their symptoms are urgent and they delay seeing physicians due to time constraints. Some report feeling too embarrassed to bring up particular health issues.
“Women should feel empowered to talk to their doctor about their numbers, their personal risk factors for disease and ways to reduce them,” Klemes noted. “If they feel their concerns are being dismissed, they should speak up or seek a physician who will take the time to listen, provide support and work collaboratively on finding solutions.”
Covid-19’s Impact on Women & Mental Health
The Covid-19 pandemic pummeled women in multiple ways, both at home and in the workplace. Approximately 44% of surveyed women said they developed “unhealthy habits” like drinking and overeating during lockdown. And 53% reported mental health concerns and said they felt stressed, anxious or depressed during the pandemic lockdown. What’s more, 41% said they felt there were times they thought they would “break down” during the pandemic.
The survey found more than half of women are worried about their mental health, but many aren’t seeking support. Of the surveyed women, 64% and 52% of women never discuss depression or anxiety, respectively.
The good news is that women have emerged tougher after the pandemic and want to make changes to better their health. About 58% said they are more resilient and are motivated to take steps to improve their health.
Nevertheless, women’s healthcare knowledge, or lack thereof, is concerning, and should cause primary care providers to figure out how to better engage women in their health care.
Take the quiz to test your own health IQ here.