Why So Shy? What Females of the Facebook Generation Are Not Sharing in the OB/GYN Office that Could Affect Their Health

The Communications Gap Between the “TMI” Generation and Their Most Important Health Providers

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010 8:08 am EDT

Dateline:

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J.

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NYSE:
MRK
"An average gynecological annual exam lasts just 15 minutes,4 so women need to overcome their reticence and maximize that time"

Millennials and Gen Xers can be eloquent in 140 characters or less, but in the doctor’s office women of this generation edit themselves about sexual health information that can guide recommendations for everything from cervical cancer screening to contraception. In a survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, less than one in four women between ages 18 and 34 with a regular health care provider has initiated a conversation about her sexual health,¹ and of those who had a conversation, four in ten weren’t too comfortable about it.²

This counterintuitive behavior, from the generation that has led society into a new world of personal disclosure and information sharing and will continue to do so using social networks as they age³, spurred Merck to develop a way to help. It's called Healthy Communication, and it is a resource-rich online kiosk, which can be found on iVillage.com/health, that provides women with practical information about initiating productive discussions about sexual health during their annual health examinations.

Roshini Raj, MD, the noted women’s health expert and co-author of the new book What the Yuck?: The Freaky & Fabulous Truth About Your Body, says this communications gap may be affecting women’s health. Women who withhold information due to shyness or discomfort may end up mismatched by their doctors with birth control or other reproductive health information that doesn’t suit their lifestyles.

“An average gynecological annual exam lasts just 15 minutes,4 so women need to overcome their reticence and maximize that time,” said Dr. Raj. “Sharing sexual lifestyle information with their physicians is not comfortable for many women and the resources at www.iVillage.com/health can help make it easier to have those conversations.”

Resources on the site include Digital Native-appropriate tools like regular articles by Dr. Raj and interactive tools to improve the quality of health conversations in the doctor’s office.

Survey findings:

  • Only 13 percent of women who have used birth control or are considering birth control share details of their sexual health with their health care provider;5
  • Less-than one-third of women are extremely satisfied with the discussions they have with health care providers during their visits, and with their overall relationship with their health care provider;6
  • Among women who had used or considered using birth control, almost one out of four report negative feelings associated with discussing sexual health with their health care provider including embarrassment, unease and bashfulness.7

“We know that women often turn to the Web when they have health questions that concern themselves and their families,” said Jennifer Barrett, iVillage Health Editor. “iVillage Health was developed as a resource to empower women to become more informed and prepared patients.”

About the survey

The 4 survey identified the type of relationship women 18 to 34 years of age have with their health care provider and the quality of their experiences with birth control. A total of 370 women between the ages of 18 and 34 participated in the online survey, which aimed to identify the type of relationship women have with their health care provider. The survey was commissioned in 2009 by Opinion Research Corporation, on behalf of Schering Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc. Respondents were from online panel sources in the United States.

About Merck

Today's Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit www.merck.com.

About iVillage

iVillage is the largest content-driven community for women online reaching 30 + million unique visitors per month (comScore July 2010). With over four million plus conversations annually and thousands of specific brands talked about weekly, iVillage is at the center of her digital routine. Everyday women come to iVillage to connect, share advice, find life tools and engage in conversations that matter most to them in areas of Pregnancy & Parenting, Health, Food, Entertainment and Beauty & Style. Additional businesses and brand extensions within iVillage include iVillage UK, NBC Digital Health Network, Astrology.com and GardenWeb. iVillage Inc., is based in New York City, and is part of the NBC Universal Women & Lifestyle Entertainment Networks Group.

¹ Schering Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., HCP Communication Gap Survey, November 2009, Slide 22

² Schering Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., HCP Communication Gap Survey, November 2009, Slide 31

³ Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center full report

4 Schering Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., HCP Communication Gap Survey, November 2009, Slide 9

5 Schering Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., HCP Communication Gap Survey, November 2009, Slide 41

6 Schering Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., HCP Communication Gap Survey, November 2009, Slide 24

7 Schering Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., HCP Communication Gap Survey, November 2009, Slide 34

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