'Fear of finding out' is a key barrier preventing or delaying adults from seeking medical advice when concerned about their health or making healthier lifestyle choices, finds new research by AbbVie and 2020Health.

According to the report, 'The Fear of Finding Out: identifying psychological barriers to symptom presentation and diagnosis in the UK', it accounts for nearly a third of all conscious reasons why individuals may be delaying or avoiding visiting their doctor or not taking the necessary steps to improve health.

It argues that 'Fear of Finding Out' is more likely to affect those who have an unhealthy lifestyle and are either smokers, heavy drinkers, or overweight, and highlights the potential scale of this as a barrier to making healthy lifestyle changes.

This is particular pertinent given that 40 percent of all the deaths in England are linked to behaviour, and managing ill-health caused by lifestyle factors is costing the NHS more than £11 billion each year, it notes.

The report's launch came as AbbVie's unveiled a new partnership discovery programme for 2017, called Live:Lab.

The project aims to improve the health of the nation by looking deeper into the 'Fear of Finding Out' and find an innovative solution to help reduce preventable health conditions and improve quality of life in the middle aged and beyond with a view to alleviating the strain placed on the NHS through chronic disease.

Through Live:Lab, the firm said it will recruit some of the nation's "most forward thinking individuals" from diverse fields such as technology, health, creativity, gaming and data "to collaborate and devise an innovative solution that will empower people to take control of their wellbeing".

"With long term funding constraints on our health system, it is part of our duty as an industry to support the NHS in remaining sustainable for as long as possible by being responsible for the nation's health in a way that is in addition to the medicines we make," said Matt Regan, UK General Manager, AbbVie. "We're proud to be part of this unique collaboration through Live:Lab, and will be listening to real people to provide solutions that make a remarkable impact on lives."