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Survey finds strong public support for health research

Last updated on 8 Mar 2018

8 in 10 think health research is very important, but confidence is lower among people from ethnic minorities

A national survey has found strong public support for health research, but highlighted that more needs to be done to ensure people from lower socio-economic groups and ethnic minorities are equally confident about health research.

The survey, commissioned by the Health Research Authority (HRA) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), found eight in ten people think health research is very important. Fifty per cent would be very confident that they’d be treated with dignity and respect if they took part in a health research study.

But the survey found that figure dropped to 39 per cent among those in social class DE, and 35 per cent among those in ethnic minorities.

The survey also found that 72 per cent of people are confident their personal data would be held securely in a study. Half think patients receive a better quality of care if the hospital they attend also carries out research

Teresa Allen

“Understanding public attitudes to research is an important part of the way both we and the NIHR involve and engage the public in our work. The results of this survey are interesting reading, and will inform our research policy and practice.

“Tracking attitudes over time can identify issues where further effort is needed to build a relationship of trust with the ultimate beneficiaries of research – patients, carers and the public. The report identifies the less positive perception of research among lower socio-economic groups and ethnic minorities as one area that needs to be a priority for both our organisations in the coming years.”

Teresa Allen, HRA Interim CEO

“We welcome the fact that this year’s survey once again highlights the public’s strong support for health research and their high level of confidence in the way research is conducted. The survey showed people associate research in the NHS with access to better quality of care. But it also found that most people did not believe or were not aware of research taking place in their local hospital. This suggests much more needs to be done to raise public awareness of research in the NHS if people are not to miss out on the opportunity to test potentially better treatments as part of their care.”

Simon Denegri, NIHR National Director for Patients and the Public in Research

How does the HRA involve the public in our work?

As an organisation that protects and promotes the interests of patients and the public in research, it is important that we have a good understanding of what these interests are. 

Learn more about how we listen to the views of patients and the public, and help to ensure they are placed at the centre of what we do.

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