UCL News


UCL in the News: Online health checks target 'dishonest' patients

7 November 2007

People will be able to assess their own health through an online "traffic light" system to be introduced next year.

A "red, amber, green" rating of an individual's health will be available through the NHS Choices website from next March, the medical magazine Pulse reports. …

The hope is that people will be more honest when dealing with a website than they are with their GP, and that those given a red rating will be encouraged to visit their GP or to take action to improve their health.

Robert West, Professor of Health Psychology at UCL, said that traffic lights were a good, simple system that "engages emotionally" with users.

"The fact that it will be a bit crude to start with doesn't matter," he said. "The idea is that it should be just a spur for people to do something about their health. The first version probably won't be quite what everybody wants, but there is good evidence that websites like this can help motivate people, get them to go to NHS smoking cessation clinics, for example.

"I just hope they won't do it as one-off gimmick, but will develop and improve it and change the bits that don't work." …

Nigel Hawkes, 'The Times'