Live:Lab: taking on the health of the nation

The latest figures show that life expectancy is at record levels, thanks to advances in science and medicine, yet much of retirement is being spent in ill health - often in and out of hospital. Currently 15 million Britons are living with a long term health condition, reliant on treatment to manage their illness1.

As we become an increasingly ageing society, the burden on the NHS continues to grow, which adds fuel to the already heated debate surrounding the uncertain future of our health service and the principles of the NHS.

Much of this strain could be eased if the nation’s adults were better engaged with their own health. Living unhealthily - smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not being active enough and eating too much - costs the NHS in England more than £11 billion every year2. Over recent years, unhealthy behaviours have crept up on us and cemented themselves in our everyday lifestyles, without us noticing. They’re often a by-product of the pressures of modern day life - lengthy working days often spent sitting, inexpensive and unhealthy food within easy grasp and a lack of time to exercise. We should all perhaps recognise our own personal responsibility for our health, our future and that of the NHS.

At AbbVie, we want to have a better understanding of the emotional and practical factors that affect the relationship we have with our health. This will help us develop and introduce interventions that will have the best impact and outcomes for health systems and patients.

A new report identifies a ‘Fear of Finding Out’ as one of the main barriers stopping people from seeking medical advice. The report, ‘The Fear of Finding Out: identifying psychological barriers to symptom presentation and diagnosis in the UK’, published by AbbVie in partnership with leading think tank 2020health, highlights the psychological reasons why we don’t always go to the doctor when we might need to3. More on the Fear of Finding Out can be found here.

AbbVie is taking a perhaps unexpected stance for a pharmaceutical company, by focusing on preventative health through the launch of the Live:Lab project, with a view to improving the health of the nation in order to benefit the NHS. We’re seizing the opportunity to think ‘human first’ and are hoping that other healthcare organisations will follow suit. Putting the needs of people first allows us to respond to the ever-changing nature of human behaviour and help create a solution that will lead to better health outcomes for individuals and for the health service as a whole.

While AbbVie has the expertise and structure of a proven pharmaceutical leader - we understand science, disease, patient pathways and medicine – we recognise that we cannot find the solution to this difficult challenge alone. Through Live:Lab, we will be collaborating with some of the leading and most creative minds in a range of industries that have rarely come together before. We want to find some of the answers to reduce and prevent health conditions and encourage people to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Live:Lab will be a unique process which draws on the expertise of industries including health, technology, physical activity, health tech, data and even film and creativity. Through this broad spectrum of experience and opinions we aim to find a solution with the ambitious goal of ultimately improving the nation’s health.

From the insights of the collaborators, we’ll work with members of the public across the country to gather information and data about how healthcare works in the real world. We believe that all of us can play a key role in overcoming the barriers to living more healthily.

This intriguing journey will be documented across the year in a series of short films, view Episode One now.

  1. The King’s Fund – Long-term conditions and multi-morbidity. Available at: [Accessed Jan 2017]
  2. Public Health England – Living healthily in midlife can double your chances of being healthy at 70 and beyond. Available at: [Accessed Jan 2017]
  3. AbbVie and 2020health report: The Fear of Finding Out – Identifying psychological barriers to symptom presentation and diagnosis in the UK. 2017. Available at


What’s the answer to tackling human fears?

People in Britain feel a deep affection, almost a reverence, for the NHS. It's a source of national pride that, whoever you are and wherever you live, you can access health services free at the point of need. But why is it that the people who are most in need of healthcare won’t seek the medical advice they need? Read what Alison Hardy, Live:Lab collaborator thinks we can be doing.

A closer look at the ‘Fear of Finding Out’

AbbVie, in partnership with 2020health, published a report titled ‘The Fear of Finding Out: identifying psychological barriers to symptom presentation and diagnosis in the UK’. Read more about the psychological barriers preventing adults from making healthier lifestyle choices.