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Wellcome Monitor - Wave 4

Doctor & patient
Published: November 2019

The fourth wave of the Wellcome Monitor explores public understanding of and attitudes towards science and health research. This research provides new insights into where society stands on crucial issues such as health research funding, drug resistant infections and mental health.

Aim

The fourth wave of the Wellcome Monitor explores public understanding of and attitudes towards science and health research. This research provides new insights into where society stands on crucial issues such as health research funding, drug resistant infections and mental health.

Findings

There is a consensus on the importance of health research

Across all parts of society, people are interested in health research and agree that medical research should be a top priority for government research funding.

There is a high level of public trust in health professionals and experts

Most people rely on the advice of professionals when making health decisions and are willing to share their medical information for research purposes.

The media is widely used as a source of health information, but rarely trusted

Sixty-eight per cent of people use the news and media as a source of health-related information, but only 14% of these people have complete or a great deal of trust in this information.

Drug resistant infections (DRIs) are a salient problem, but antibiotics are misunderstood

Around half of people (51%) think they have a good or very good understanding of the term “drug resistant infections”, and DRIs are widely considered to be a major threat to public health.

Despite this, only 43% of people know that antibiotics can only be used to treat bacterial infections.

The public is interested in mental health and mental health research

A large majority of the public (75%) are interested in research into mental health issues – more than any other area of health research, including genetics, ageing, risk of disease, obesity and others.

Methods

This wave of the Monitor was conducted either online or over the phone with a representative sample of 2,708 British adults (18+). The sample was recruited from the NatCen Panel – the first probability-based research panel in Great Britain that is open to be used by the social research community.

Read the Wave 4 report