Nearly Two Thirds Put Off Seeing Doctors Due To Diagnosis Fears – New Campaign & Quiz Launched To Understand Why

Global biopharmaceutical company, AbbVie has joined forces with The Patients Association to launch a quiz to help experts and the public better understand what lies behind the ‘Fear of Finding Out’ (‘FOFO’). FOFO is a major psychological barrier causing people to delay seeking medical advice and ‘sleepwalk’ their way into ill health in later life.

New research commissioned by AbbVie illustrates the negative impact of Fear of Finding Out, with the majority of people (61%) admitting they would consider delaying making a GP appointment for fear of being told they have a serious illness.  A third (32%) of people admitted they would consider putting off making a doctor’s appointment because they are worried they will be pressured into making lifestyle changes3 – a fear which is a proven help-seeking barrier. These findings reveal low awareness among Brits of the impact of not seeking medical advice early, which can lead to more complicated treatment and poorer outcomes.

The new quiz, developed by Live:LabTM, is the first step towards helping experts better understand what lies behind FOFO. Through ‘Crush Your FOFO’, AbbVie and The Patients Association will also be raising awareness around the importance of early diagnosis. Research has shown that late diagnosis places huge financial strain on the NHS, for example an extra £150 million spent on the treatment of cancers spotted too late alone.

Worryingly, the new research highlighted the public’s misconceptions around delaying seeking medical help, with only 20% believing they could be a burden to the NHS if they didn’t get a worrying symptom checked out.3 One in ten people (10%) also believe that delaying seeing a doctor about a health concern would have no implications, with their condition staying the same, and being just as treatable when they finally seek medical help.

Jeff Brazier, TV personality and father of two, who has appeared in a short film about the making of ‘Crush Your FOFO’, has lent his support to the campaign. Jeff Brazier said: “I know first-hand that being afraid of checking worrying health symptoms can have a serious impact on your health and your loved ones. My former partner and mother of my children, Jade, delayed going for check ups and she ended up losing her life because of it. That delay caused immense heartbreak for our boys. I would urge anyone who has a worrying health symptom to face up to it and get it checked out sooner rather than later”.

‘Crush Your FOFO’ is a series of quick-fire questions. Depending on answers given, players will be presented with their personal health fear ‘gremlin’, a representation of the severity of their FOFO, along with the chance to virtually ‘crush’ it. Users who may be burying their heads in the sand about health symptoms are encouraged to visit their pharmacy or NHS Choices as a first port of call for more information, as well as a GP for any worrying health symptoms. The advice to also consider visiting a pharmacy with worrying health symptoms complements NHS England’s recent campaign which encourages people to visit their local pharmacy team first for minor ailments.

Gwenan White, Live:Lab project lead at AbbVie UK said: “We hope the public have fun with  ‘Crush Your FOFO’ and listen to the serious message that lies behind it – that it’s important to get worrying health symptoms checked out as early as possible. AbbVie recognises that we have a part to play in helping to alleviate pressure placed on the NHS through late diagnosis. ‘Crush Your FOFO’ is the first step towards us being able to help understand why some people have the Fear of Finding Out, and only then will we be able to find ways to empower adults to overcome it.

‘Crush Your FOFO’ is an open-data project, and once the findings from the quiz are in, there will be a job to do to understand people’s behaviours and where we go from there”.

Rachel Power, CEO of The Patients Association, said: “We really need to understand what is causing people to have the Fear of Finding Out, before we can find ways to address it. We believe that ‘Crush Your FOFO’ has real potential to unlock findings that could ultimately empower the UK’s adults to take control of their wellbeing. We see real potential in this quiz to get people motivated to tackle any worrying health symptoms head on”.

The quiz has been brought to the public by AbbVie’s Live:Lab – a unique collaboration of experts from the UK’s tech, creative and healthcare industries to tackle FOFO – with the likes of award-winning quiz designers, Glitchers; the creative studio behind Wallace & Gromit, Aardman; the Open Data Institute; former Health Minister, Alan Milburn; Professor Sir Muir Gray; and TV doctor, Zoe Williams joining the line up.

The questions in the quiz were developed by Dr Carmen Lefevre, Behavioural Scientist from the UCL Centre for Behaviour Change, and the findings will help the Live:Lab experts understand people’s motivations and attitudes towards decision-making when presented with worrying symptoms. Importantly, the anonymous behavioural data captured by the mini quiz will be open-sourced to allow others, particularly in the health industry, to further understand the underlying reasons why the British public may delay seeking medical advice for concerning health symptoms.

To take the test and find out if you have the Fear of Finding Out, please visit on mobile or desktop.



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