Global GSK survey reveals 86% of adults surveyed significantly underestimate shingles risk and potential severity

Tuesday 27 February 2024 12:34
Globally, shingles will affect up to 1 in 3 people in their lifetime, and its pain is often described as aching, burning, stabbing or shock-likeYet data from the online survey shows many adults underestimate their risk of getting shingles, with over a quarter (28%) believing it is "essentially harmless"The data, launched in time for Shingles Awareness Week 2024, finds a widespread lack of understanding of shingles and its lifetime riskGSK) today released new data from a global survey, commissioned and funded by GSK, highlighting some significant gaps in the understanding of shingles risk among people aged 50 and over, a group of adults already at risk of the disease. The research amongst 3,500 adults aged 50 and over from 12 countries, assessed respondents' understanding of shingles, what triggers it, and its impact on people's lives.
Global GSK survey reveals 86% of adults surveyed significantly underestimate shingles risk and potential severity

The findings show that a significantly high proportion of those surveyed do not understand their risk of developing shingles, with 86% underestimating that risk. A quarter (26%) estimated that 1 in 100 are at risk of shingles in their lifetime, almost a fifth (17%) thought it is 1 in 1000, and almost half believe (49%) they are unlikely to develop shingles.

In reality, most adults already have the virus that causes shingles present in their bodies by the age of 50, which may reactivate with advancing age. Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox. As people age, the strength of the immune system response to infection wanes, increasing the risk of developing shingles, and thus putting people aged 50 and over at increased risk.

The survey results also show a lack of awareness for the pain shingles can cause. The disease, which typically presents as a rash, with painful blisters across the chest, abdomen or face, is often described as aching, burning, stabbing or shock-like. Yet 1 in 10 adults surveyed don't know the most common symptoms of shingles, and over a quarter (28%) believe shingles is "essentially harmless".

Following the shingles rash, a person can also experience post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), a long-lasting nerve pain that can last weeks or months and occasionally persist for several years. PHN is the most common complication of shingles, occurring in 5-30% of all shingles cases from findings in various studies. GSK is launching the new survey findings as part of Shingles Awareness Week (26 February 2024 - 3 March 2024), a campaign led by GSK in collaboration with the International Federation on Ageing (IFA). The aim is to raise awareness and address the lack of knowledge about the risks and impact of shingles.

Marija Krstic, General Manager, GlaxoSmithKline (Thailand) Co., Ltd. Or GSK, said: "These results show a clear need to strengthen our education efforts on the risk and impact of shingles. As a global advocate with and for ageing populations, we are proud to contribute on this worldwide effort to increase awareness of shingles and help adults understand the risks and complications associated with this painful disease."

The survey also investigated where adults turn to for health-related information. Results show that a large number of people aged 50 and over, often turn to less traditional routes to access health information, with 90% of respondents saying they would use internet search engines like Google. These results highlight a clear need for more guidance regarding shingles education and where to source reliable health-related advice.

A review of global search data from Google across 12 months from September 2022 shows that more clarity may be needed on the disease, as evidenced by online searches. A 600% rise in searches for "stages of the shingles rash pictures" has been recorded, highlighting an increasing interest in shingles as well as underscoring an amplified prevalence of online sources providing health-related information.

Dr. Bussakorn Mahakkanukrauh, GlaxoSmithKline (Thailand) Co., Ltd., said: "It is so important that we continue our efforts, alongside the International Federation on Ageing, to raise awareness of the risk of shingles for adults over 50. These new findings show a lack of understanding of the disease and who is at risk. Shingles can be a debilitating disease that can significantly impact the quality of day-to-day life for those with it. In the third Shingles Awareness Week, we're asking people to talk to a healthcare professional about this painful condition that could affect us in our lifetime."


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Source: ABM Connect