POLL DATA SUMMARY - VOLUME 20
Research!America annually publishes a summary of results from our most recent public opinion surveys.
Use this data in letters to the editor; op-eds; newspaper articles; letters to and visits with elected officials; speeches; talking points; congressional testimony; town hall meetings and debates; and policy statements.
To view a complete database of national public opinion surveys, click here.
MESSAGE FROM LEADERSHIP
Research!America was founded in 1989 during a challenging time for the science and medical research enterprise: a recession had put federal support for research funding at risk and too many policymakers appeared dismissive of the value of science. We began surveying the American public, believing then — as now — that effective science advocacy begins with understanding the public’s attitudes about medical and science-related topics.
In this critical election year, we continue to keep our finger on the pulse of public opinion, identifying widespread support across the political spectrum for prioritizing faster medical progress. We are living in an era in which trust is being undermined and misinformation is easily spread, creating confusion and questioning expertise. Yet, our survey results affirm that Americans rank scientists high in credibility and view research as a problem solver.
Other findings warrant optimism as well: There is widespread agreement across the political spectrum that spending to treat, prevent, and cure disease is not enough, and there is willingness by a majority of Americans to pay more in taxes if those dollars go to medical research. This willingness has increased two years in a row. Public support for basic research is strong and also has been trending upward. A large majority favor doubling federal spending on medical research over the next five years.
In surveys of two burgeoning scientific areas, Americans tell us genetic research is important to improve their family’s health and they agree more donated organs and tissues will help researchers make medical and health breakthroughs. There is also robust support for federal investment in research to improve healthcare quality and safety.
Americans are deeply concerned about public health threats such as opioid addiction, mental health, climate change, vaping, gun violence and antibiotic resistance. At the same time and of great concern, belief in the importance of vaccines, and confidence in vaccine safety, have decreased. Not surprisingly, cost of health care tops the list of the most important issues facing our nation. In tackling the cost problem, we must be mindful of policies which might inadvertently choke off the very innovation needed to stop diseases and the costs they generate.
Public sentiment is clear: federal investment in research — from basic, to more targeted, to public health and health care delivery — is not keeping pace with current opportunities nor the critical need to find treatments and improve people’s lives. Americans know research is a problem-solver. Equipped with this information, our role as advocates is to work with our members and partners to ensure that in this challenging election year, science is championed like never before. Let us join forces to use this data to advance the goals and aspirations of the American people. As we write this, America is grappling with a coronavirus outbreak; the value of research and the place of scientific evidence in decision making could not be more obvious or more paramount. It’s an in-the-moment reminder we can’t let up advocacy for the research that will find the solutions to what ails us.