At a glance: GPs are top health info providers, says poll

What does this mean? A survey by Reader’s Digest and the Proprietary Association of Great Britain, which represents manufacturers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, shows that GPs continue to be favoured by people seeking health information.

Please elaborate
The survey, called A Picture of Health, is essentially a look at the way UK consumers treat minor ailments. It is clear that consumers support a self-care agenda (96 per cent of people believe they are responsible for their own health) but still prefer to trust their doctor (67 per cent visit GPs 'sometimes', 19 per cent 'frequently').

Does this present PR opportunities?
The GP remains the first port of call for the majority of people, perhaps because it's the one they understand the best. But there is scope for targeted consumer campaigns in other health areas. For example, under-25s and single people use the pharmacist the least, the survey says.

But aren't we now encouraged to ask our pharmacists?
Yes. But just 14 per cent have visited a pharmacy more than three times for health advice in the past year, compared with 32 per cent who have visited their doctor as frequently. Forty-eight per cent of men and 34 per cent of women have never visited a chemist for advice.

What about other sources of health information?
The web is now preferred to TV, with 61 per cent of us turning to the internet (and the same number to newspapers and magazines). Just 56 per cent of us prefer TV and radio.

Should this survey worry the Government?
It's true that since 2000 Labour has explicitly promoted self-care to reduce the burden on GPs and hospital staff, such as its launch of phone service NHS Direct. But it appears that attracting us to pharmacies by allowing a greater range of OTC medicines or services, such as smoking cessation advice, still has a way to go.

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