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New Aetna Study Finds Consumers Want Easier Ways to Manage Their Health Goals

June 18, 2018 | Innovation

HARTFORD, Conn. — Today, Aetna released the results of its inaugural Health Ambitions Study, which explores consumers' health goals and the relationship between consumers and providers in the evolving health care system. The study finds that people, particularly women, are paying attention to their holistic health, as they seek resources that better support both health and wellbeing.

If given an extra hour in the day, 60 percent of people said they would spend it on mental and physical wellbeing activities (67 percent of women compared to 44 percent of men). Forty-five percent of women say they have a stress reduction health goal, compared to 28 percent of men.

Still, 50 percent of women say they are very likely to take their doctors' recommendations, compared to 61 percent of men, highlighting an opportunity to improve how the industry engages women on their health journeys.

"Women are often the primary caregiver for their families," said Aetna President Karen Lynch. "So, when it comes to health and lifestyle goals, women need more support to feel confident in their health decisions for themselves and others. We recognize the value of highly-personalized, local, consumer-centric care, and we believe we are in a unique position to help transform the health system to better meet the needs of all consumers."

The Health Ambitions Study finds that fewer women believe that their doctors understand their health needs, as 70 percent of women say their doctors are aware of their lifestyle habits, compared to 81 percent of men.

The study reveals the importance of providing simple, accessible solutions to help consumers achieve their health goals. Overall, respondents say it is very important that their doctors talk in a way they can easily understand (77 percent), have office appointments when they need them (66 percent) and offer access to other health care professionals to coordinate care (59 percent).

Gender Differences in Health Experiences

Men say they are more confident that doctors understand their health lifestyles. More than three-quarters (80 percent) of men say their doctor is familiar with their health goals, compared to 65 percent of women.

Caring for the Sandwich Generation

The study illuminates the health and wellness needs of the Sandwich Generation—those who manage the health needs of both their children and their parents. Encouragingly, nearly all consumers in the Sandwich Generation say their doctors spend enough time answering questions (85 percent), offer access to other health care professionals (84 percent) and have office appointments when needed (77 percent).

Mental Health & Stress Support

When it comes to supporting holistic health, consumers want access to resources that address mental health and stress reduction. More than one-third say they have a stress reduction (40 percent) or a mental health goal (36 percent).

Doctors play a critical role in the network of support, with respondents saying it is important that their primary care physician be familiar with their mental health history (86 percent) and ability to manage stress (84 percent).

Transformation of Care

The study further reveals a clear opportunity to transform the way health care is delivered in the U.S. Doctors are seeking greater access to community and health resources to better serve their patients. In fact, over half of physicians (54 percent) say that mental health counselors are very important, yet only 7 percent say they have excellent access to this vital community resource.

Other notable findings of the survey include:

  • Younger consumers are turning to digital tools, more than older consumers, to improve communication with their doctor: 37 percent of those aged 18-34 say digital messaging and 35 percent say virtual office visits would be valuable, compared to only 32 percent and 17 percent, respectively, of people aged 65 and older.
  • While consumers highly rated privacy (80 percent) and data security (76 percent) as important aspects of health care, health costs were also a concern. Seventy-three percent of consumers indicated that the cost of care is very important. This ranks ahead of getting personalized care (71 percent) and coordination among healthcare providers (68 percent).
  • Providers in value-based care models have greater access to community resources than providers who are not involved in value-based care models. For example, 61 percent of those in value-based care models say they have very good or good access to nutritionists, compared to just 46 percent of physicians not in value-based care models.

For more information on the Health Ambitions Study and the ways in which Aetna is meeting the health care needs of consumers, go to


Aetna's inaugural Health Ambitions Study, conducted in December 2017, included two distinct surveys fielded by Market Measurement, a custom market research firm. The consumer survey comprised 1,000 responses from consumers 18 and older. The physician survey comprised 400 responses divided among 200 primary care doctors and 200 specialists, all of whom have at least two years of experience.

About Aetna

Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving an estimated 40.3 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental and behavioral health plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers’ compensation administrative services and health information technology products and services. Aetna’s customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see

Aetna Media Contact:

Ethan Slavin
860- 273-6095