Science, Health and Creative Industries Team Up to Address the UK’s Fear of the Doctor

Do you put off going to the doctor because of fear? If the answer is yes, then you are certainly not alone. According to research carried out as part of our Live:Lab project, 61% of people asked admitted that they put off going to see their GP because of fears that they may be told that they have a serious illness.1 So, what can be done to help support the UK to overcome its Fear of Finding Out (FOFO)? 

Research has shown that late diagnosis places a huge strain on NHS budget, with an extra £150 million spent on late diagnosis of colon, rectal, lung and ovarian cancers alone.So although individuals may think that they are doing the healthcare system a favour by not taking up NHS time, they could actually end up costing the NHS more should there actually be something wrong.

“GPs are overworked and stressed, and demand for appointments is high, so much so that it can be difficult to get an appointment at times. However, (and I can’t stress this enough), we still want to see you, especially if you are having symptoms that could be a sign of chronic disease or cancer. It is never a waste of a doctor’s time if you are concerned.”  Explains Dr Zoe Williams, GP, former Gladiator and key collaborator in the Live:Lab

As part of the project, we have teamed up with various
organisations such as Aardman Animations and the Patients Association to create ‘Crush Your FOFO’, a gamified quiz that aims to help experts understand what lies behind the Fear of Finding Out. The quiz’s approach to public health messaging uses humour rather than the more traditional hard-hitting methods
that have been used in the past, and even give the user an option to crush their FOFO once and for all. But despite the comical theme of the app, the #CrushYourFOFO campaign aims to highlight the importance visiting a GP or pharmacist early in an attempt to increase early detection rates, and to help
to alleviate some of the financial pressures placed on the NHS as a result of late diagnosis.

The ‘Crush Your FOFO’ quiz highlights NHS Choices as a first port of call for people feeling unwell, followed by directing users to a GP or pharmacist if they are still worried. The anonymous data collected from the quiz will be open-sourced and available for use for by the wider healthcare industry with the goal of helping healthcare providers pinpoint ways in which the system can better encourage members of the public to get ‘checked out’.  

‘GLITCHERS’, the British video-game company credited for the design of games such as Sea Hero Quest, is one of the organisations behind the Crush Your FOFO quiz, showing that game-based health studies have the potential to drive conversation around public and personal health in a way that other media cannot. Max Scott-Slade, co-founder of the company, is enthusiastic about the health and tech overlap.

“Gaming is at a very interesting juncture in the health
space, I’m really happy to be part of Live:Lab to continue the innovation in this space. We’ve partnered with AbbVie UK to explore how gaming can aid advances in healthcare around the Fear of Finding
Out, and designed Crush Your FOFO. It’s important that consumers can be reached with important health messages, and collaborations with industries such as gaming could be key to finding the best ways to do that.”

To take part in the project and to find out what type of FOFO you have, take the quiz at  At the end of the quiz your answers will be analysed and you will be assigned your own personal fear gremlin, which you can then crush to symbolise positive steps towards taking control of your health. 

To find out more about the Live:Lab project click here.