A new study found that millennials throughout the U.S. may be avoiding the doctor.

Area millennials appear to be fairly consistent in their attitudes toward in-person medical consultations, with some seeing regular doctor visits as a vital part of an effective health regimen and others avoiding their doctors’ offices for a variety of reasons.

The South Bend, Ind.-based health IT analysis company Harmony Healthcare IT recently surveyed 2,000 millennials, which the survey defined as people 23 to 38 years old, to learn more about their relationship with health care. The study found that 24% of respondents have gone five years or more without getting a physical. Nearly half of the respondents admitted to putting off seeing a doctor about a health issue.

While he has not tried to ignore health issues, Nick Simmons, 23, of Springfield, has not had a physical check-up in six years. His avoidance of the doctor’s office appears to be based on apprehension that he may receive bad news during his check-up.

“I’m afraid of what they’ll tell me,” said Simmons. “If I have a health issue, I go to the doctor. The last time I saw a doctor was when I broke my hand, about six months ago.”

Darin Mathis, 24, of Pekin, believes in a more proactive approach to health care and tries to visit a health care provider for a check-up every six months.

“If something’s wrong with us, we need to know,” said Mathis. “We need to make sure we’re healthy.”

Like Mathis, Alyssa Miller, 22, of East Peoria, believes regular check-ups are an important component in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Unlike Mathis, she has not submitted to a physical examination in five years.

“I don’t like going to the doctor,” she said. “It takes up too much of my time.”

The most common reason that many millennials are not getting physicals is that they are feeling healthy, according to the survey. Forty-two % of respondents cited that factor for not visiting a health care provider, according to the survey.

Tony Dzambazi, 29, of Pekin, last had a physical four years ago and said he has not returned for another because he has not noticed any health problems.

“I feel like I’ve been doing okay, health-wise,” he said. “I might have (a physical) soon. I try to do one every five or six years. If there’s something more serious (than a cold or the flu), though, I try to go get looked at.” 

Other common reasons millennials are often not getting physicals include being too busy or because seeing a physician is inconvenient, according to the study. Millennials appear to also prefer getting their medical advice online rather than receiving in-person advice from a doctor. The survey showed that 73% of respondents prefer online searches for their medical guidance. WebMD appears to be the most popular online source, with 82% of respondents who receive online health care advice turning to the site for recommendations.

“(Searching online) takes a lot less time,” said Miller. “(My favorite site) is WebMD.”

Mathis will occasionally seek medical information online, but he believes the Internet is a supplement to, rather than a substitute for an in-person consultation.

“What you find online isn’t always right,” he said. “A doctor might know more about what’s going on than something you find online.”

Dzambazi also prefers a face-to-face consultation to his computer when he is in need of medical advice. He finds online sources too impersonal to always accurately diagnose a patient’s medical condition.

“It’s better to get a doctor’s opinion and have them actually take a look at you than it is to just see what you can find online,” he said.