Being Healthy, Being Sick, Being Resposnible: Attitudes towards Responsibility for Health in a Public Healthcare System
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPublic Health Ethics. 2019, 12 (2), 145-157. 10.1093/phe/phz009
Lifestyle-induced diseases are becoming a burden on healthcare, actualizing the discussion on health responsibilities. Using data from the National Association for Heart and Lung Diseases (LHL)’s 2015 Health Survey (N = 2689), this study examined the public’s attitudes towards personal and social health responsibility in a Norwegian population. The questionnaires covered self-reported health and lifestyle, attitudes towards personal responsibility and the authorities’ responsibility for promoting health, resource-prioritisation and socio-demographic characteristics. Block-wise multiple linear regression assessed the association between attitudes towards health responsibilities and individual lifestyle, political orientation and health condition. We found a moderate support for social responsibility across political views. Respondents reporting unhealthier eating habits, smokers and physically inactive were less supportive of health promotion policies (including information, health incentives, prevention and regulations). The idea that individuals are responsible for taking care of their health was widely accepted as an abstract ideal. Yet, only a third of the respondents agreed with introducing higher co-payments for treatment of ‘self-inflicted’ conditions and levels of support were patterned by health-related behaviour and left-right political orientation. Our study suggests that a significant support for social responsibility does not exclude a strong support for personal health responsibility. However, conditional access to healthcare based on personal lifestyle is still controversial.