Oregonians Want More Public Health Research

11/23/04    Portland, Ore.

Poll shows state residents support research investment increase.

Oregon residents want elected officials to support increased investment in research to find better ways to protect and promote health, according to a poll released today by Research!America and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).

Eighty-six percent of Oregon residents are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports increasing research funds to find ways to prevent disease. A majority (74 percent) feel the amount spent on public health research -- about 1 cent of every U.S. health care dollar -- is too little, with the majority (70 percent) believing the investment should be double or more.

"Oregonians understand the value of prevention and that gaining knowledge on how to prevent disease is at least as important as other medical breakthroughs," said Alan Melnick, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of family medicine, and public health and preventive medicine, OHSU School of Medicine.

Mary Woolley, president, Research!America, agreed. "Prevention is more effective and less expensive than trying to cure disease, disability and injury. It is clear that Oregonians understand that we need to invest more resources in public health research."

Oregon residents also want equality in health. Seventy-one percent of respondents said it is very important to conduct research to maintain and improve the health of women, and 92 percnet said it is important to conduct research to eliminate health disparities.

Michelle Berlin, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, public health and preventive medicine, and medical informatics and clinical epidemiology, OHSU School of Medicine, called OHSU a leader in addressing health disparities among women in the state.

"OHSU is a national model of innovative, comprehensive, multidisciplinary and integrated health care for women, with a multidisciplinary research agenda focused on women's health issues and educational programs and materials for the general public and health care professionals on women's health," she said. "OHSU's designation as a National Center of Excellence in Women's Health provides recognition and support for these efforts. Health disparities among Oregon's women, especially rural and disadvantaged women, are key areas being addressed."

When asked to rate public health research priorities, residents named cancer (98 percent), heart disease and stroke (95 percent), diabetes (94 percent), lack of access to routine health care due to costs (92 percent), and conditions caused by poor environmental quality (89 percent) as top/somewhat high priorities.

Speaking out on prevention regulations:

  • 88 percent strongly/somewhat favor a regulation that requires minimum standards for physical education in all public schools.
  • 84 percent strongly/somewhat favor a regulation that helps reduce air, water and soil pollution.
  • 70 percent strongly/somewhat favor a regulation that eliminates advertising of unhealthy food and beverages on public school property.
  • 65 percent strongly/somewhat favor a regulation that raises taxes on tobacco products.

"This is no surprise," Melnick said. "These issues have the greatest impact on the health of our communities, and all of these conditions are preventable. For example, public health research has shown that smoking, obesity and environmental pollution are major contributors to chronic disease including cancer, heart disease and stroke. Public health research has also shown that access to routine health care can help ensure that all Oregonians receive services that prevent premature illness and death."

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 (PRI), funded by a grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides polling information and programs to build greater national support for prevention and public health research.

Harris Interactive(R) conducted the 15-minute poll by telephone with 803 Oregon adult residents, ages 18 and over, between June 17 and June 30, 2004. The poll is part of a series of state surveys conducted for the PRI. The survey data were weighted by age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, income, Metropolitan Statistical Area, household size and the number of telephone lines in the household to reflect the demographic composition of the Oregon population using the March 2003 Current Population Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. Research!America's PRI commissioned the poll. The results have a statistical precision of +/- 3.5 percentage points of what the results would be if the entire adult population of Oregon had been polled.