Montanans Want More Invested in Protecting Their Health

Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes Seen as Top Public Health Research Priorities
Thursday, July 21, 2005

HELENA, Mt.—July 21, 2005—A large majority of Montana residents (87%) support increasing state funding for health departments that are expected to prepare for and respond to threats to our health according to a statewide poll released today by Research!America.

Sixty-one percent feel the amount spent finding ways to protect and improve their health through public health research is too little. The majority of adults in the state (62%) think that such funding should be at least double the current level of about one cent of every U.S. health care dollar.

Topping the list of Montanans' priorities for public health research are:

  • Cancer-96% believe public health research should focus on this disease area;
  • Heart disease and stroke (92%);
  • Diabetes (92%);
  • Inadequate pre- and post-natal care (91%); and
  • Alzheimer's disease (90%).

To increase funding for such research, residents say they would favor initiatives such as designating a percentage of lottery sales revenues (80%), creating a state tax return check-off for voluntary donations to health research (76%), and increasing the tax on alcohol (67%).

"Public health research is absolutely the key to improving our health and quality of life because it finds new ways to detect disease early or to prevent disease and disability altogether," said Mary Woolley, president, Research!America. "Montana residents want to be assured an adequate investment is being made in their health and that they will continue to see the real benefits public health research can bring."

Fully 91% say it is important for the United States to educate and train individuals to serve as state and local public health officers and others responsible for protecting community health.

"We are encouraged by these results that demonstrate strong citizen support of our public health system in protecting and promoting health, and the importance of prevention research," said Jane Smilie, Administrator of the Public Health & Safety Division at DPHHS.

Behaviors Seen as Preventing Disease and Disability

The survey also asked what behaviors Montanans most associate with disease and disability prevention:

  • Most strongly associated with prevention were not smoking (73%), safe sex (70%), wearing a seat belt (67%) and vaccinations (63%). More than half named preventive screenings (57%), avoiding excessive drinking (54%), safe work practices (53%), physical exercise (51%) and healthy diet (50%).
  • Fewer than half cited weight control (48%), youth safety (46%), crime-free communities (46%), physical checkups (44%), protection from bioterrorism (36%) or mental health screening (23%) as behaviors associated with prevention.

Research!America is a not-for-profit, membership-supported public education and advocacy alliance founded in 1989 to make medical and health research-including research to prevent disease, disability and injury and to promote health-a much higher national priority. Its Prevention Research Initiative, funded by a grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, works at the state and national levels to build greater support for prevention and public health research.

Harris Interactive® conducted the 15-minute poll by telephone with 807 Montana adult residents, ages 18 and over, between January 13 and February 6, 2005. This poll is the 24th in a series of state surveys commissioned by Research!America for its Prevention Research Initiative.

The survey data were weighted by age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, income, Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), household size and the number of telephone lines in the household to reflect the demographic composition of the Montana population, using the March 2003 Current Population Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. In theory, with samples of this size, one can say with 95% certainty that the results have a sampling error ±3.5 percentage points of polling the entire adult population residing in Montana had been polled with complete accuracy.


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Media Contacts

Robert Shalett
Director of Communications 

Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.
Abraham Lincoln