Women in low-income households are less likely to access healthcare

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In fact, one in ten have never had health issues such as blood pressure or cervical cancer checked – compared to just five percent of those in a household earning more than £40,000 per annum.

And 15 percent of lower earners, who do not take up offers of preventative healthcare, feel it’s not needed.

They are also the least able to talk to, and understand, healthcare professionals (72 percent, compared to 81 percent of high-income households), and most unaware of where they can access health information (79 percent, compared to 89 percent of high-income households).

And although 75 percent feel informed about what is needed to be healthy, this rises to 88 percent of those in high-income households.

It also emerged 30 percent of low earners who experience daily problems – such as joint pain, backaches, or headaches – have stopped work completely as a result, compared to just 10 percent of high-income households.

The study was commissioned by Hologic, an innovator in women’s health, which has also launched year two of its Global Women’s Health Index in partnership with analytics firm, Gallup.

It aims to capture the experiences of women when it comes to health – covering preventive care, basic needs, opinions of health and safety, individual health, and emotional health – in a bid to help fill a critical gap in what the world knows about the health and wellbeing of women and girls globally.

The Index assigns a women’s health score (from one to 100) to each of 122 countries and territories – with the average global score at only 53, and no country or territory scoring higher than 70.

In 2021, the overall score for the UK dropped three points, and it now scores 60 out of 100.

Tim Simpson, general manager, Hologic UK & Ireland, said: “Your level of wealth shouldn’t impact your access to diagnosis and treatment, but the new research shows it does.

“Women are the cornerstone of families, communities, and economies, and more must be done to tackle the stark health inequalities they face across the UK.”

Additional research, conducted via OnePoll, into women’s health in the UK, also found those in low-income households are the least likely to contact their GP if they have a health issue (40 percent, compared to 46 percent of high-income households).

In fact, two-thirds of all the women polled, are currently suffering with some form of physical medical condition – but these ailments have had a greater impact on those with a lower household income.

Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of females in low-income households, suffering from health problems, find themselves having to change social plans as a result of their issues.

Others said their friendships have been impacted (20 percent), as well as relationships with family (19 percent).

Among the ailments low earners versus women from high-income households are more likely to suffer from are mental health conditions (32 percent vs 26 percent), digestive problems (11 percent vs nine percent), and cancer (seven percent vs five percent).

The research also found almost a quarter (24 percent) of those with medical problems in low-income households aren’t able to afford exercise, such as gym memberships or use of swimming facilities.

And 21 percent don’t have enough money to cover the cost of nutritious food, while 13 percent even struggle to afford to take time off work to attend healthcare appointments.

Furthermore, 35 percent of these women are feeling lonely – more so than those in higher-earning households (31 percent).

Tim Simpson, for Hologic, added: “We’ve seen more than ever the importance of preventative care, and this must be a core component to better support women’s health.

“At a time of economic uncertainty for so many, we need to take into account the barriers women face, to ensure that all women have equal access to the treatment and care to keep them healthy.

“Through our Global Women’s Health Index we will continue to measure the state of women’s health in the UK and around the world, so we can address health inequalities faced by so many, and drive urgent change.”

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