Doctor, doctor, the TV is making me sick

Article date: 13 November 2002

Telly belly is striking down Britain’s TV fans, say thecountry’s GPs.

TV addicts are catching bugs from their favourite stars –or at least they think they are – according to new researchinto the working life of doctors.

GPs say media stories on health issues, such as those featuredon the news or soaps, have a significant effect on people’sperception of their own well-being.

In fact, more than nine out of ten GPs believe media coverageaffects patients, says the study by Norwich Union Healthcare.

The spread of telly belly is one of a number of findings whichreveals a UK patient-base becoming ever more interested in its ownhealth.

And to help patients improve the management of their everydayhealth and their efforts to prevent illness, Norwich UnionHealthcare has launched a web-based health service today

Norwich Union Healthcare’s study also reveals:

  • Almost nine in ten GPs say patients are more likely to self-diagnose than 10 years ago
  • GPs believe a quarter of patients who self-diagnose are rightmost of the time, two thirds occasionally and just over one in tenhardly ever
  • Three quarters of GPs believe women are better informed abouthealth issues than men
  • Two thirds of GPs say they are overworked

Tim Baker, commercial director of Norwich Union Healthcare,said: “TV health scares clearly put added pressure on GPs.But overall I’m sure doctors welcome the population’sgrowing interest in its own well-being.

“It’s much better than having patients who wait toget ill and then expect the doctor to do everything forthem.”

Personal Health Manager will offer round-the-clock help, adviceand information for Norwich Union Healthcare customers and theirfamilies. It also provides telephone access to GPs 24 hours aday.

The service launches today. It can be used by Individual PrivateMedical Insurance customers of Norwich Union Healthcare whoregister on the site. Anyone else can use it for a 30-day trialperiod. All content has been created in the UK by a team of over 20medical professionals.

The site contains four areas. They are:

  • Symptom Assessment - users can enter their own symptoms andanswer questions to determine a range of possible conditions
  • Health Planner - helps users create tailored health plans tochange habits for the better and avoid ill-health. These plans canbe carried through using e-mail reminders
  • Medical Encyclopedia - over 1,000 pages of illustrated medicalinformation from the latest edition of the Complete Family HealthGuide published by Dorling Kindersley
  • 24-Hour GP Helpline - this service already exists for NorwichUnion Healthcare policyholders. Personal Health Manager extendsthe service by giving GPs access to data saved by users on thesite*.

Dr John Henry, Professor of Accident Medicine at St Mary’sHospital & Imperial College Medical School and chairman of thesite’s medical review panel, believes Personal Health Manageris a major step forward in healthcare.

He said: “People are clamouring for this kind of service.I’m pleased to see Norwich Union responding to this withPersonal Health Manager. Anything which empowers patients to takemore responsibility for their own well-being is to beapplauded.”

Access to Personal Health Manager: Norwich Union Healthcare hasset up a free 30 day trial for your readers. Simply call 0800 142142* quoting reference AEQ PHP. (see Notes to Editors forjournalist access)

Press contact:
Jo Misson, Matthew Buchanan or Jane Wheeler at QBO on 020 73790304
or Louise Zucchi at Norwich Union on 08703 666 860/07860 203466

Notes to editors:

  • Norwich Union Healthcare commissioned Taylor Nelson SofresOmnimed to talk to more than 200 GPs across the country in October2002.
  • *The GP Helpline is not available as part of the trial. Forsecurity and administration, calls to and from Norwich Union maybe monitored and/or recorded.
  • Norwich Union Healthcare is the healthcare arm of NorwichUnion and provides a range of private medical insurance and incomeprotection products to around 750,000 customers. It is one of thelargest providers of income protection and private medicalinsurance in the UK.
  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer offering acomprehensive range of long-term savings and general insuranceproducts.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases are available on the Avivaplc website at
  • A selection of images is available from the Norwich UnionNewscast site at

For life and pension media enquiries 08703 66 68 73
For all other media enquiries 08703 66 68 68

Norwich Union Life Services Limited represents only the NorwichUnion Marketing Group, members of which are regulated by theFinancial Services Authority, for life assurance, pensions andinvestments. Members of the General Insurance Standards CouncilMembers of the Aviva group

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