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UK Insights

Delving into the complexities of patient behaviour

Kirsty Cooke

Head of Digital Content, UK

Health 20.03.2018 / 13:00


Layering research methods has helped Kantar Health understand the behaviours of an IBS patient – and new potential solutions.

Kantar recently sponsored the Insight Show in London, with speakers from across the business taking to the stage at our stand to present some of the latest research and methods from their operating brand. Kantar Health’s Jeanette Hodgson was first up on day one, talking about some recent self-funded work around IBS and patient behaviour. However, the research marked a new approach that took a broader view of patient experience.

‘Collectively, we need to understand patients better,’ said Jeanette. ‘While the industry as a whole has grown more adept at this, there’s still a tendency to conduct our research as if as individuals we function in isolation, despite the fact that there are many factors in play. We cannot hope to gain deep insights into patients’ relationships with their illness and what drives their behaviour in relation to it if we do not also seek to understand the impact of socio-cultural influences and contextual environments.’

‘We know from behavioural psychologists that we, as social beings, are highly influenced by those around us; by how we perceive ourselves relative to others and what those around us do, as well as by our physical environment. As researchers, we’ve historically paid little attention to these elements in our research. We must now embrace the fact that individuals do not function in a vacuum, and accommodate broader social and physical factors to uncover how people really relate to their health.’

Kantar Health looked beyond the individual in a variety of ways.  

  • In-person interviews, using a variety of qualitative techniques
  • Blogs
  • Candid conversations happening on social media
  • Primary and secondary health data
  • Cultural narratives surrounding the condition
  • Perspectives from growing pools of patients and advocates

‘We employ a methodology that, we believe, stands out and truly delivers on our commitment to patient centricity and understanding the individual patient ecosystem. Using the IBS condition as a point of illustration, we’ve layered our approach to arrive at a bigger picture and deeper understanding of the sufferer’s world,’ Jeanette commented.

‘In the world of IBS, the patient ecosystem is often fraught with confusion, embarrassment, belittlement, and loneliness. It’s a condition that stays behind the curtain, allowing for a continued lack of quality treatment and awareness. It was our mission in this study to pull back the curtain and share our insights with healthcare providers and pharma companies, to drive greater connection and communication opportunities with patients.’

Through these various approaches and techniques, Kantar Health showed that there is more to the silent suffering of IBS patients than meets the eye – and identified ways to challenge the status quo and improve the lives of IBS sufferers.

‘The cultural exploration we conducted confirmed that if we want to change the narrative of IBS and encourage people to come forward for the support and help they need to minimize this huge impact on life, it would not be sufficient to target sufferers alone. The cultural climate would have to change, much the same as is occurring with mental illness, where awareness campaigns have focused on promoting understanding and empathy.’

Whilst this study was focussed on IBS, the concept behind the approach can be applied to patients and physicians in any therapy area.

Source : Kantar Health

Editor's Notes

For more information, please check out these Kantar Health reports: 

Edge of Insight: Patient Ecosystems

White Papers: Cultural Narratives

Behavioural Economics

Patient Ecosystems & Social Media Listening

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