A new Pegasus study has found that Generation Z (aged 16-23) has an overwhelming concern that UK health services won’t meet their needs or expectations in the future.
The study, Generation Z: The Future of Health and Wellbeing, delved into the health attitudes and behaviours of the UK's youngest voting generation compared to Baby Boomers aged 54-72, aiming to learn their views on health-related topics including the NHS, trust in healthcare professionals and mental health.
Brexit was found to be the biggest worry, with two-thirds (59%) believing an exit from Europe will have a negative impact on the NHS, compared to just 28% of Baby Boomers.
Regardless of Brexit, both age groups are concerned about the longevity of the NHS, with 69% of Generation Z and 72% of Baby Boomers saying they are worried about its future.
The study also found that 72% of Generation Z say they have a lot of respect for doctors and specialists, and more than a third (38%) would visit a GP when feeling ill.
Their experience in the consulting room isn’t always positive, however. Forty-one percent say they feel a doctor dismisses them during a consultation, as if they are imagining or exaggerating their symptoms. Also, 60% of Generation Z admit to consulting Google to check symptoms before making an appointment with a GP, compared to just 31% of Baby Boomers.
Discussing mental health was found to be a barrier that Generation Z are eager to overcome, with 46% indicating that they would struggle to tell their doctor if they were experiencing mental health problems.
As a generation they appear to take a more holistic approach to mental health, with 20% practicing mindfulness and meditation in an attempt to stay healthy, compared to just 10% of Baby Boomers.
Dr Anna Baker, a health psychologist who helped author the report, says: “Generation Z sees the importance of caring for their health and engaging with HCPs, but appear to have more negative experiences. This could be influenced by direct experience but also potentially by a heavy reliance on using online resources to access information."