Americans think commitment to health research should be stronger

Most Americans rate medical research as a high national priority and strongly support greater public and private funding, according to an article in the September 21 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on medical research. However, recent opinion surveys indicate that Americans also are increasingly dissatisfied with the nation's health care system and think the national commitment to health-related research should be higher.

Lead author Mary Woolley, M.A., of Research!America, Alexandria, Va., presented the findings of the article today at a JAMA media briefing on medical research.

Elected and appointed officials representing the public continuously shape policy affecting the conduct of health-related research and health care in the U.S., according to background information in the article. These officials pay close attention to issues that concern the health of the public. Medical researchers and funders of health-related research should be well informed of the public's attitudes toward research.

Mary Woolley, M.A., and Stacie M. Propst, Ph.D., of Research!America, Alexandria, Va., summarized 10 years of data gathered from national and state opinion surveys on public attitudes and perceptions about health care and health-related research. Data in the article were drawn from 70 state surveys and 18 national surveys commissioned by Research!America from 1998 through 2005. Most of the surveys had a sample size of 800 or 1,000 adults (range, 800 5,377). Participants were selected at random and surveyed by telephone interview.

In a 2005 poll, Americans ranked health care (28 percent), education (22 percent), and jobs (20 percent) as the most important domestic issues. That same year, the majority of interviewees (78 percent) said it was very important that the U.S. maintain global leadership in health-related research. More than half (55 percent) of Americans want more spent on research, and, most importantly, they are willing to pay for i

Contact: Heather Jameson
JAMA and Archives Journals

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