New partnership aims to tackle health issue of the fear of finding out

October 30, 2017

Today, global research-based biopharmaceutical company, AbbVie, is announcing a unique line-up of experts from a range of industries to tackle the complex health issue of the ‘Fear of Finding Out’ (FOFO) – a major psychological barrier which prevents people from seeking medical advice when they have worrying symptoms[i].

Former Health Minister, Alan Milburn, is chairing the group of Live:LabTM collaborators who comprise filmmakers, animators, gamers, data specialists and health experts – with the likes of award-winning game designers Glitchers, medical virtual reality experts FundamentalVR, the Open Data Institute, Professor Sir Muir Gray and TV doctor Dr Zoe Williams, joining the line-up.

The experts will draw on their experience on the power of storytelling and characters, the benefits of data and tech, and real-life medical experience. The aim is to create a positive new approach to help the public and NHS to overcome barriers that stop people coming forward for early diagnosis and treatment.

A new short film is being released today, documenting the Live:LabTM collaborators meeting to discuss ways new technologies and data collection can revolutionise our approach tackling barriers to health.

Studies show that addressing concerns in middle age can double individuals’ chances of being healthy when you are 70[ii]. Live:Lab’sTM aim is to help people feel positive and empowered to take control of their own health and wellbeing, which in turn will help them to overcome the barriers that prevent them from seeking health advice and delay diagnosis. Live:LabTM complements NHS England’s ‘Five Year Forward View’ by focusing on improving health prevention, supporting a more sustainable NHS.[iii] Never before has the ‘Fear of Finding Out’ been addressed by such a broad range of experts, collectively.

Speaking about the project Live:LabTM collaborator, Sir Muir Gray CBE, said: “We’re increasingly seeing evidence which shows that people respond far better to positive health messages, which in turn means they are more likely to engage with the health service. I’m a firm believer that healthcare is what you do for yourself and through the work we’re doing with Live:LabTM, we’re hoping to devise a solution which will help people feel empowered and in control of their health and wellbeing.”   

Heather Wright, Executive Producer and Head of Partner Content at Aardman and Live:LabTM collaborator, comments: “I am passionate about the NHS and I was a little surprised that a major pharmaceutical company, like AbbVie, would want to look outside the industry for answers and explore the territory of preventative health. I was even more surprised when I first learnt about who else is part of Live:LabTM – from game developers, to tech experts. The aspirations for Live:LabTM, such as breaking down barriers to form progressive partnerships to support the NHS, are something I really respect. I feel we have the potential to help make a real change to healthcare.”

Jérôme Bouyer, AbbVie General Manager, commented: “As an innovation led science company we, and in fact healthcare organisations more widely, are used to thinking in terms of logic and evidence. We come at problems from the world of fact based evidence. But life experience shows that we’re not always logical in how we think about our own health. The decisions we make have a big impact on what help we can get from doctors. If we are going relieve the huge strain on the NHS, we must get creative and we can only do this by bringing in the most creative minds from outside of healthcare. This is what AbbVie is trying to encourage through this collaboration.”

[i] 2020health: The Fear of Finding Out – Identifying psychological barriers to symptom presentation and diagnosis in the UK. 2017. Available at
[ii] Lang, I. A., et al. (2012). Healthy Behaviours in Middle Age and Long-Term Consequences for Mortality, Physical and Cognitive Function, and Mental Health. J Epidemiol Community Health. 66:A1-A66
[iii] NHS England. Five Year Forward View. Available at: [Last Accessed: April 2017]

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