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Press Release   •   Feb 15, 2018 00:01 GMT

FOFO game helps people face their health gremlins through humour
  • An estimated 12 million GP appointments are missed each year in England1
  • Fear of Finding Out (‘FOFO’) comprises many different fears, including: fear of the hospital environment, fear of being told something is wrong and fear of painful treatments2
  • New ‘Crush Your FOFO’ quiz will help experts and the public better understand FOFO which is preventing people from seeking medical advice
  • TV presenter, Jeff Brazier, whose former partner Jade Goody delayed seeking medical advice and later died from cervical cancer, is supporting the campaign

MAIDENHEAD, UK, 15 February 2018; 00.01 – Global biopharmaceutical company, AbbVie has joined forces with The Patients Association to launch a quiz to help experts and the public better understand what lies behind the ‘Fear of Finding Out’ (‘FOFO’). FOFO is a major psychological barrier causing people to delay seeking medical advice and ‘sleepwalk’ their way into ill health in later life.

New research commissioned by AbbVie illustrates the negative impact of Fear of Finding Out, with the majority of people (61%) admitting they would consider delaying making a GP appointment for fear of being told they have a serious illness.3 A third (32%) of people admitted they would consider putting off making a doctor’s appointment because they are worried they will be pressured into making lifestyle changes3 - a fear which is a proven help-seeking barrier.2

These findings reveal low awareness among Brits of the impact of not seeking medical advice early, which can lead to more complicated treatment and poorer outcomes. The new quiz, developed by Live:LabTM, is the first step towards helping experts better understand what lies behind FOFO. Through ‘Crush Your FOFO’, AbbVie and The Patients Association will also be raising awareness around the importance of early diagnosis. Research has shown that late diagnosis places huge financial strain on the NHS, for example an extra £150 million spent on the treatment of cancers spotted too late alone.4

Worryingly, the new research highlighted the public’s misconceptions around delaying seeking medical help, with only 20% believing they could be a burden to the NHS if they didn’t get a worrying symptom checked out.3 One in ten people (10%) also believe that delaying seeing a doctor about a health concern would have no implications, with their condition staying the same, and being just as treatable when they finally seek medical help.3

Jeff Brazier, TV personality and father of two, who has appeared in a short film about the making of ‘Crush Your FOFO’, has lent his support to the campaign. Jeff Brazier said: “I know first-hand that being afraid of checking worrying health symptoms can have a serious impact on your health and your loved ones. My former partner and mother of my children, Jade, delayed going for check ups and she ended up losing her life because of it. That delay caused immense heartbreak for our boys. I would urge anyone who has a worrying health symptom to face up to it and get it checked out sooner rather than later”.

‘Crush Your FOFO’ is a series of quick-fire questions. Depending on answers given, players will be presented with their personal health fear ‘gremlin’, a representation of the severity of their FOFO, along with the chance to virtually ‘crush’ it. Users who may be burying their heads in the sand about health symptoms are encouraged to visit their pharmacy or NHS Choices as a first port of call for more information, as well as a GP for any worrying health symptoms. The advice to also consider visiting a pharmacy with worrying health symptoms complements NHS England’s recent campaign which encourages people to visit their local pharmacy team first for minor ailments.

Gwenan White, Live:Lab project lead at AbbVie UK said: “We hope the public have fun with ‘Crush Your FOFO’ and listen to the serious message that lies behind it – that it’s important to get worrying health symptoms checked out as early as possible. AbbVie recognises that we have a part to play in helping to alleviate pressure placed on the NHS through late diagnosis. ‘Crush Your FOFO’ is the first step towards us being able to help understand why some people have the Fear of Finding Out, and only then will we be able to find ways to empower adults to overcome it. ‘Crush Your FOFO’ is an open-data project, and once the findings from the quiz are in, there will be a job to do to understand people’s behaviours and where we go from there”.

Rachel Power, CEO of The Patients Association, said: “We really need to understand what is causing people to have the Fear of Finding Out, before we can find ways to address it. We believe that ‘Crush Your FOFO’ has real potential to unlock findings that could ultimately empower the UK’s adults to take control of their wellbeing. We see real potential in this quiz to get people motivated to tackle any worrying health symptoms head on”.

The quiz has been brought to the public by AbbVie’s Live:Lab – a unique collaboration of experts from the UK’s tech, creative and healthcare industries to tackle FOFO – with the likes of award winning quiz designers, Glitchers; the creative studio behind Wallace & Gromit, Aardman; the Open Data Institute; former Health Minister, Alan Milburn; Professor Sir Muir Gray; and TV doctor, Zoe Williams joining the line up.

The questions in the quiz were developed by Dr Carmen Lefevre, Behavioural Scientist from the UCL Centre for Behaviour Change, and the findings will help the Live:Lab experts understand people’s motivations and attitudes towards decision-making when presented with worrying symptoms. Importantly, the anonymous behavioural data captured by the mini quiz will be open sourced to allow others, particularly in the health industry, to further understand the underlying reasons why the British public may delay seeking medical advice for concerning health symptoms.

To take the test and find out if you have the Fear of Finding Out, please visit on mobile or desktop.


Notes to editors

For further information please contact:

020 3003 6415 / 020 3003 6345

Matt Worrall

07464 652 626

1. The quiz can be played on mobile or desktop and can be accessed here:

2. Interviews are available on request with:

  • Jeff Brazier, TV personality
  • Gwenan White Live:Lab project lead at AbbVie
  • Rachel Power, CEO, The Patients Association
  • Heather Wright, Executive Producer at Aardman and Live:Lab collaborator
  • Dr Carmen Lefevre, Senior Research Associate at UCL’s Centre for Behaviour Change
  • Case study: Mark, 47-year-old who delayed seeking medical advice and later suffered a near fatal stroke

3. The new short film starring Jeff Brazier can be watched here:

4. Please download images and the film here:

5. Kantar TNS (Reseach Express) conducted an online attitudinal poll of 2,452 British adults, with fieldwork taking place between 2nd – 8th January 2018. The sample has been weighted to represent the adult population of Great Britain 16+.

6. ‘The Fear of Finding Out: Identifying Psychological Barriers to Diagnosis in the UK’ can be read online here:

7. About Live:Lab

AbbVie has launched Live:Lab with the ambitious goal of improving the health of the nation. Through Live:Lab, AbbVie wants to better engage and empower adults, aged between 40 and 60 years old, to take control of their own wellbeing.

The full list of Live:LabTM collaborators:

  • Rt Hon Alan Milburn – former Secretary of State for Health
  • The Patients Association - one of the oldest independent charities in the UK, dedicated to ensuring that the opinions of patients are gathered on a wide variety of health and social care issues
  • Simon Bullmore, Open Data Institute – a non-profit company with a mission to inspire people to innovate with data
  • Julia Manning, Chief Executive, 2020health – an independent, social enterprise thinktank whose mission is to ‘make health personal’
  • Aardman – world leading and multi-award winning British studio which produces series, advertising, interactive entertainment, attractions and feature films; like Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep
  • Glitchers – a company creating innovative gaming products including Sea Hero Quest, an award-winning mobile and virtual reality quiz which collects spatial navigation data to inform dementia research
  • Professor Sir Muir Gray – founder of the National Library for Health and the first person to hold the post of Chief Knowledge Officer of the NHS
  • Dr Zoe Williams – media medic, GP and clinical champion for the RCGP’s clinical priority ‘Physical Activity and Lifestyle’
  • Dr Carmen Lefevre – research associate and research lead at the UCL Centre for Behaviour Change
  • Alison Hardy – health behaviour change expert and founder of Headstrong Thinking
  • Fundamental VR – medical VR simulation specialist that delivers virtual reality haptic ‘flight simulators' for surgery
  • Dr Angel Chater – chartered psychologist, and a reader in Health Psychology and Behaviour Change at the University of Bedfordshire
  • Chrissie Wellington OBE – Global Head of Health & Wellbeing, Parkrun, and British triathlete
  • Daniel Hulme, CEO of Satalia – a company pushing the boundaries of data science, optimisation and artificial intelligence to solve the most difficult problems in industry

8. About The Patients Association

The Patients Association's mission is to listen to patients and to speak up for change. Our vision is for health and social care services that provide high quality and safe care, where patients and their carers are valued as expert partners and recognised as individuals. And for a health system that is compassionate, accessible and inclusive for everyone that seeks to improve and innovate. Likewise, we want to see a culture where transparency thrives, patients, their families, carers and staff are empowered to raise concerns and make complaints to contribute to a better and safer healthcare system. We believe this should be an accountable system where this feedback is valued and acted upon.



1 NHS England using technology to beat cost of missed appointments:

2 2020health: The Fear of Finding Out – Identifying psychological barriers to symptom presentation and diagnosis in the UK. 2017. Available at

3 Kantar TNS (Research Express) conducted an online attitudinal poll of 2,452 British adults, with fieldwork taking place between 2nd – 8th January 2018. The sample has been weighted to represent the adult population of Great Britain 16+

4 Saving lives, averting costs An analysis of the financial implications of achieving earlier diagnosis of colorectal, lung and ovarian cancer. September 2014. A report prepared for Cancer Research UK:

About AbbVie

AbbVie is a global, research-driven biopharmaceutical company committed to developing innovative advanced therapies for some of the world’s most complex and critical conditions. The company’s mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to markedly improve treatments across four primary therapeutic areas: immunology, oncology, virology and neuroscience. In more than 75 countries, AbbVie employees are working every day to advance health solutions for people around the world. For more information about AbbVie, please visit us at Follow us on twitter: @abbvieuk.