Stress in America survey exposes gaps in health care system

Recent findings show Americans not getting what they need from health care providers to manage stress and unhealthy behaviors

By Public Relations staff

Feb. 14, 2013—When it comes to stress management and wellness, there is a gap between what Americans want from their health care system and what they actually get, according to a new survey released last week by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Findings from Stress in America™: Missing the Health Care Connection, which was conducted online by Harris Interactive among 2,020 U.S. adults in August 2012, suggest that people are not receiving what they need from their health care providers to manage stress and address lifestyle and behavior changes to improve their health.

While Americans think it is important that health care focuses on issues related to stress and living healthier lifestyles, their experiences do not seem to match up with what they value. For example, though 32 percent of Americans say it is very/extremely important to talk with their health care providers about stress management, only 17 percent report that these conversations are happening often or always.

“When people receive professional help to manage stress and make healthy behavior changes they do better at achieving their health goals,” says APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD. “Unfortunately, our country’s health system often neglects psychological and behavioral factors that are essential to managing stress and chronic diseases. In order for our nation to get healthier, lower the rates of chronic illnesses, and lower health care costs, we need to improve how we view and treat stress and unhealthy behaviors that are contributing to the high incidence of disease in the U.S.”

The report was released on Feb. 7, with a live press webinar and discussion of the findings by Dr. Anderson and APA Executive Director for Professional Practice Katherine C. Nordal, PhD. In addition to an interview of Dr. Anderson by USA Today, the survey also received media coverage on CNN Newsource, NBC Nightly News and other media outlets throughout the U.S.

APA has conducted the annual Stress in America survey since 2007. The survey provides insights into leading sources of stress among Americans and creates a platform for educating consumers about the connection between prolonged stress and health. Stress in America also provides an opportunity for APA to promote the value of psychologists in studying and treating physical health problems by drawing attention to how stress and unhealthy behaviors can contribute to the development of chronic illnesses. The report gains considerable national media coverage for psychology each year and is part of APA’s Mind Body Health public education campaign.

APA members and the public can view the latest Stress in America report.