Over the last couple of decades, the internet and its associated technologies have become increasingly integrated into our everyday lives. Although the digital divide between generations appears to be decreasing, it remains clear that younger Australians are more comfortable with digital technology than older generations. For example, recent research has shown that:
- 97% of young Australians access the internet on their phones vs. 78% of those aged 34 and above
- Younger Australians are roughly twice as likely as those over 34 to use five or more devices to go online and to use apps for video calls, voice calls, and messaging
- 28.1% of Americans aged 35 and above would never leave the house without a phone, compared to 56.6% for younger Americans and 61.8% for Australians aged 18-34
- Gen Z spends over 22% more time on their phones compared to millennials
Moreover, studies have revealed that young people prefer to communicate through digital mediums rather than face-to-face (F2F) across a variety of purposes, including socialising, learning and in certain contexts, receiving healthcare . Healthcare should always be delivered F2F for conditions that require physical assessment. However, consults that do not have this requirement, such as chronic disease management, can be safely conducted through virtual modalities. Moreover, a growing body of literature shows that telehealth significantly reduces multiple barriers Australians face in accessing quality healthcare . Eucalyptus’ comprehensive programs empower young people to take control of their health journeys, increasing access to high-quality care.
The most common health issues among young Australians
The 2020-21 National Health Survey revealed that:
- Mental and behavioural conditions were the most common health issues among the 15-24 (27.5%) and 25-34 (25.3%) age groups
- Nearly all mental health disorders peak when people are in their 20s and gradually trend downward towards old age 
University of Melbourne’s Patrick McGorry attributes this phenomenon to the “perfect storm of biological and socioeconomic factors” that young people must contend with .
Not only are they dealing with the stress of moving out of home, exploring their identities, starting a career and trying to find an intimate partner, but they’re also under immense pressure to find security in an unaffordable housing market – and the rise of social media, which can foster unhealthy social comparison, doesn’t help either .
While obesity didn’t feature as one of the most common health conditions among young people in the 2020-21 National Health Survey, it would have ranked number two on the list
if the ABS considered obesity a chronic health condition (like the World Health Organisation does) .
In fact, the ABS found in its most recent national obesity study in 2017-18 that 46% of 18-24 year-olds and 58% of 25-34 year-olds were overweight or obese, with over ⅓ of each cohort being the latter .
While the report highlighted that “the likelihood of being overweight or obese increases with age,” it also found that the largest increase in rates of both conditions was for 18-24-year-olds, which grew 18% in just 3 years .
Acne can have a strong negative effect on self-esteem, with one study showing that acne patients develop mental health issues of the same severity as those reported by patients with chronic disabling asthma, epilepsy, diabetes, back pain or arthritis .
Despite the condition often being perceived as one exclusive to teens, research has revealed that acne is a chronic inflammatory disease that can persist for decades, sometimes affecting over ¾ of 18-25-year-olds and ¼ of 30-39-year-olds . However, acne appears to impact the self-esteem of young adults more than other age groups .
Roughly one in six Australian women aged 25 to 34 are infertile and men have been found to contribute to a comparable number of infertility cases as women . Infertility prevalence is growing throughout the world – a trend that’s often explained by increased exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals and rising obesity rates .
Interestingly, there appears to be a two-way link between infertility and obesity with a study finding that infertile women have a higher risk of being overweight and obese than fertile women .
Furthermore, women who experience infertility are more likely to suffer from psychological distress than those who don’t, and this distress tends to endure for many years after the experience, mainly because of the extent to which parenthood is entrenched as a societal norm .
To add to this, a commonly overlooked phenomenon is that men also undergo significant emotional stress during and after infertility experiences, regardless of whether they or their partner struggled with it .
The rising prevalence of infertility and its strong association with reduced quality of life has unsurprisingly led to calls for the condition to become a strategic public health priority .
Whereas PE prevalence appears relatively consistent across adult age categories at around 30%, ED is similar to obesity in that incidence rates are higher in older cohorts but rising among young adults, with studies detecting a rate as high as 35% among younger men .
Both PE and ED can be caused by a range of biological and psychological factors, but as is the case with acne and infertility, an association between obesity and mental health disorders is regularly observed in contemporary research. Furthermore, there’s good evidence of a bidirectional relationship between sexual dysfunction and adverse mental health . An outcome of this interrelationship is that many young men develop a preference for self-pleasuring with porn over dating and intimacy with a partner .
This also contributes to the vicious cycle of anxiety and perceived shame, as increased pornography consumption among the 18-35 male cohort has been found to positively correlate with ED .
The biggest healthcare barriers for young Australians
With every generation comes different experiences, customs and beliefs; all of which impact healthcare preferences and expectations.
Clear examples of this can be seen in recent findings on general practice trends. For a long time, primary care was synonymous with the family doctor model in Western society. However, the deeper integration of technology in everyday functions has rendered the regular family GP less compatible with many young people’s lives :
- 23% of 18-34-year-olds don’t have a regular GP – nearly double the rate observed in the general population (12%) and the highest among all age categories
- 18-34-year-olds are more likely than the general population to avoid seeing a GP in times of need (51% vs. 42%)
- Online information (34%) is consulted almost just as frequently as GPs (43%) for first-stop health advice among 18-34-year-olds
- 18-24-year-olds are almost three times as likely as 55-65-year-olds to Google medical symptoms on a monthly basis (50% vs. 17%) and general medical questions on a daily basis (33% vs. 12%)
Despite these trends and the strong evidence of young adults preferring telehealth for mental health, sexual dysfunction and most types of obesity and infertility consults , Australia’s leading media and medical institutions continue to stoke fear about the quality and safety of virtual consults in an attempt to steer people back to F2F settings .
Yes, there are telehealth providers out there who fail to meet quality and safety standards. But there are also F2F GPs who compromise patient care, with evidence of increased workloads and shorter tolerance of patient discourse suggesting the number might be a lot higher than we’d expect . It’s likely that the disproportionately negative framing of telehealth stops many young adults from using such services, while also restricting the number of potential services on the market, which represents a considerable barrier to Australian healthcare.
How Eucalyptus is improving young Australians’ health and wellbeing
Eucalyptus offers services for a number of health conditions, and young adults represent a large proportion of our patients:
- Between August 2022 and June 2023, 91.14% of our fertility patients, 70.57% of our skincare patients, and 32.48% of our women’s weight loss patients were 18-35
- 53.4% of the patients registered with Pilot, which delivers men’s weight loss, sexual dysfunction and mental health treatment, were young adults
Young Australians are well represented across all our brands because our services remove the group’s most significant barrier to quality care: F2F communication.
Millennials and Gen Zers are often more comfortable communicating online and feel less loyalty to the regular GP model of primary care. They’re also travelling more frequently than previous generations and have a preference for convenience in every aspect of their lives because they’ve only ever known a world that’s capable of delivering quality services in convenient ways.
That’s precisely what we deliver at Eucalyptus: discreet care that patients can access at a time and location of their choice, using a model with rigorous data processes that render our quality and safety standards superior to the average F2F clinic.
It’s difficult to dispute that Eucalyptus is one of the most impactful and comprehensive digital health services for young Australians. Stronger support from government bodies, including subsidising major medication costs, would allow us to better support more young Australians with typically underserved conditions.
- Szymkowiak, A., Melovic, B., Dabic, M., et al. (2021). Information technology and Gen Z: The role of teachers, the internet, and technology in the education of young people. Technology in Society, 65.
- Kodjebacheva, G., Culinski, T., Kawser, B., et al. (2023). Satisfaction with telehealth services compared with nontelehealth services among pediatric patients and their caregivers: Systematic review of the literature. JMIR Pediatr Parent, 6: e41554.
- Gonzales, R., Douglas, A., Glik, D., et al. (2014). Exploring the feasibility of text messaging to support substance abuse recovery among youth in treatment. Health Educ Res, 29(1): 13-22.
- Bauer, S., Okon, E., Meerman, R., et al. (2012). Technology-enhanced maintenance of treatment gains in eating disorders: Efficacy of an intervention delivered via text messaging. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 80(4): 700-706.
- Simon, E., Edwards, A., Sajatovic, M., et al. (2022). Systematic literature review of text messaging interventions to promote medication adherence among people with serious mental health illness. Psychiatry services, 73(10): 1153-1164.
- OECD (2018) Children and Young People’s Mental Health in the Digital Age: Shaping the Future.
- Shannon, H., Bush, K., Villeneuve, P. (2022). Problematic Social Media Use in Adolescents and Young Adults: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JMIR Ment Health, 9(4):e33450.
- Mallon, E., Newton, J., Klassen, A., et al. (2007). The quality of life in acne: a comparison with general medical conditions using generic questionnaires. British Journal of Dermatology, 140(4): 672-676.
- Collier, C., Harper, J., Cantrell, W., et al. (2008). The prevalence of acne in adults 20 years and older. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 1:56-59.
- Revol, O., Milliez, N., Gerard, D. (2015). Psychological impact of acne on 21st-century adolescents: decoding for better care. British Journal of Dermatology, 172:S1.
- Hassan, J., Grogan, S., Clark-Carter et al. (2009). The individual health burden of acne: appearance-related distress in male and female adolescents and adults with back, chest and facial acne. J Health Psychol. 14(8): 1105-18.
- Lasek, R. & Chren, M. (1998) Acne vulgaris and the quality of life of adult dermatology patients. Arch Dermatol, 134(4): 454-8.
- Baribieri, J.,Fulton, R., Neergaard, R., et al. (2021). Patient perspectives on the lived experience of acne and its treatment among adult women with acne: A qualitative study. JAMA Dermatol, 157(9): 1040-1046
- Herbert, D., Lucke, J., & Dobson, A. (2009). Infertility, medical advice and treatment with fertility hormones and/or in vitro fertilisation: a population perspective from the Australian longitudinal study on women’s health. A N Z J Public Health, 33(4):358-64.
- Sun, H., Gong, T., Jiang, Y., et al. (2019). Global, regional and national prevalence and disability-adjusted-life years for infertility in 195 countries and territories, 1990-2017: results from a global burden of disease study, 2017. Aging (Albany NY), 11(23): 10952-10991.
- Rehman, S., Usman, Z., & Rehman, S., et al. (2018). Endocrine disrupting chemicals and impact on male reproductive health. TAU, 7(3).
- Broughton, D., & Moley, K. (2017). Obesity and female infertility: potential mediators of obesity’s impact. Fertility and sterility, 107(4):840-847.
- Esmaeilzadeh, S., Delavar, M.,Basirat, Z., et al. (2013). Arch Med Sci, 9(3):499-505.
- Chachamovich, J., Chachamovich, E., Ezer, H., et al. (2010). Investigating quality of life and health-related quality of life in infertility: a systematic review. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 31(2):101-110.
- Ying Ying, L., Har Wu, L., Yuen Loke, A. (2015). Gender differences in experiences with and adjustments to infertility: A literature review. Int J Nurs Stud, 52(10): 1640-52.
- Fisher, J., Baker, G., & Hammarberg, K. (2010). Long-term health, well-being, life satisfaction, and attitudes toward parenthood in men diagnosed as infertile: challenges to gender stereotypes and implications for practice. Fertil Steril, 94(2): 574-80.
- Bagade, T., Thapaliya, K., Breuer, E., et al. (2022). Investigating the association between infertility and psychological distress using Australian longitudinal study on women’s health.
- Coskuner, E., & Ozkan, B. (2022). Premature ejaculation and endocrine disorders: A literature review. World J Mens Health, 40(1):38-51.
- Roberts, M., Perera, M., Chung, E, et al. (2015). Premature ejaculation: A clinical review for the general physician. AFP, 44(10).
- Martins, F., & Abdo, C. (2010). Erectile dysfunction and correlated factors in Brazilian men aged 18-40 years. J Sex Med, 7(6):2166-2173.
- Bolat, D., Kocabas, G., Gunlusoy, B., et al. (2017). The relationship between acquired premature ejaculation and metabolic syndrome: A prospective comparative study. Int J Impot Res, 29(3):105-109.
- Fillo, J., Levcikova, M., Ondrusova, M., et al. (2017). Am J Mens Health, 11(2):240-245.
- Rowland, D. (2011). Psychological impact of premature ejaculation and barriers to its recognition and treatment. Curr Med Res Opin, 27(8):1509-18.
- Sheng, Z. (2021). Psychological consequences of erectile dysfunction. Sexual health, 12(6):19-22.
- Jacobs, T., Geysemans, B., Van Hal, G., et al. (2021). Associations between online pornography consumption and sexual dysfunction in young men: Multivariate analysis on an International web-based survey.
- Levesque, J., Harris, M., & Russell, G. (2013). Patient-centred access to healthcare: conceptualising access at the interface of health systems and populations. International Journal for Equity in Health, 12(18).
- Tan, M., Mason, S. (2023). Australian Healthcare Index. Healthengine. June 2023.
- MedicalDirector (2019). Doctor Google: How self-diagnosis impacts clinical care.
- Nicholas, J., Bell, I., Thompson, A., et al. (2021). Implementation lessons from the transition to telehealth during COVID-19: A survey of clinicians and young people from youth mental health services. Psychiatry Research, 299.
- Cheng, Y., Boerma, C., Peck, L. (2021). Telehealth sexual and reproductive health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Med J Aust, 215(8):371-372
- Ospina, N., Phillips, K., Rodriguez-Gutierrez, R., et al. (2018). Eliciting the patient’s agenda - secondary analysis of recorded clinical encounter. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 34: 36-40.