Patient Satisfaction News

76% of Patients Face Barriers to Self-Care, Health Improvement

A recent survey shows that although patients value overall wellness, they are facing barriers to health management and self-care, preventing health improvements.

By Sara Heath

Three-quarters of adult patients reported facing barriers to self-care and overall wellness in a new survey from Novant Health and Harris Poll.


The survey, completed by over 2,000 adult patients, found a number of common barriers to patient wellness and independent health maintenance, including a lack of motivation and time, the cost of care, and conflicting home and work responsibilities.

Although 47 percent of respondents said they could take better care of themselves if they had more time, the researchers suggested that may not be the case. The survey showed that many patients spend a significant amount of time watching television or on social media.

On average, adults spend 63 minutes per day exercising, while they spend an average of 230 minutes per day watching television and 286 minutes working at a desk.

Women spend an average of 99 minutes per day on social media compared to 63 minutes for men. Women also spend more time watching TV, clocking in at an average of 244 minutes each day versus 212 minutes for men.

Millennial patients typically spend nine hours engaged in sedentary tasks, including an average of approximately three hours at a work desk, three hours watching television, and two hours on social media. s Other respondents face different barriers, including external responsibilities that take precedence over their personal health.

The survey showed that 29 percent of adults have delayed medical attention because of another life event. The 67 percent who reported never doing so said they might put off a doctor’s visit if the situation arose.  

Vacations, weddings, graduations, work, and holidays were the most frequently-cited reasons for delaying a medical visit or procedure.

Because of these barriers, 85 percent of patients said they have at least some concerns about their health. Forty-six percent of patients said they are very concerned with their health.

Ninety-six percent of respondents believe they are personally responsible for improving their health, although a majority think they could do a better job. When asked to give themselves a grade for their self-management, three-quarters gave themselves a B or C. Eight percent gave themselves a D or F.

Although the survey suggests that patients have varying concerns and views about their healthcare, a majority have one thing in common: ninety-six percent said that wellness was more important than mitigating illness on a case-by-case basis.

Patient-centered care may be useful in transforming sick care into wellness care. When providers prioritize wellness activities such as monitoring patient health using mHealth or ensuring patients can access preventive care, providers may be able to keep patients healthier in the long-run.

According to Mark Wagar, President of Heritage Medical Systems, robust wellness care is a foundational tenet of patient engagement.

“Certainly we have all the necessary delivery systems to take care of you when you come to us in a physician's office or in an urgent situation… we have all that,” Wagar said in a past interview with

“It’s not enough to be really good when somebody falls in your door,” he asserted. “It’s in fact as important, if not more important, to be able to figure out how to work with them to improve their general health status so that they have fewer events where they fall in the door.”

As value-based care models such as accountable care organizations or patient-centered medical homes continue to spread, it may be useful for healthcare providers to understand how their patient populations want to engage. By delivering patient-centered care, providers may be able to offer wellness care instead of sick care.

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