Building America’s reputation as a global leader in health and medical research is a top priority for most Americans, according to new report on American’s views on health care and health research.

The report shows that many Americans have lost faith in the country’s health care system, and more than half (55 percent) say they are currently dissatisfied with the quality of health care in the U.S., up from 44 percent five years ago.

Researchers say the results show that Americans want more funds and resources devoted to health care and health research, and more importantly, they are willing to pay for it.

More Money for Health Care

In the study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers analyzed the results of 10 years of data from state and national surveys on public attitudes and perceptions of health care and health-related research. The 70 state and 18 national surveys were conducted by Research!America among randomly selected adults interviewed by telephone from 1998 to 2005.

A 2005 poll shows that health care topped education and jobs as the most important domestic issue in America.

The poll also shows that about two-thirds of Americans say they are willing to pay $1 more a week in taxes for additional medical research, an increase from 2004 when less than half of Americans said they were willing to pay more.

Although Americans seem willing to pay more for health research, the study also shows most Americans think too many regulatory barriers are impeding the progress of research and want Congress to support regulatory and tax policies that encourage private industries to conduct medical research.

When asked what type of research was more valuable, research to prevent disease or research to cure disease, nearly half (48 percent) said research to prevent disease was more valuable.

American Views on Health Care & Research

In keeping with the finding that 67 percent of Americans would like to see more about scientific and medical research in the media, here is a summary of the other major points of the study:

—68 percent of Americans say clinical research is important, but a declining percentage of Americans said they would be willing to participate in a clinical trial, from 63 percent in 2001 to 55 percent in 2004.

—60 percent of Americans do not believe America has the best health care system in the world.

—A majority (58 percent) of Americans favor embryonic stem cell research.

—Of the 29 percent who oppose stem cell research, 57 percent said their position was based on religious objections.

—Most Americans (77 percent) oppose the use of cloning to create a child, but 66 percent support cloning to find a cure for disease and disabilities.

—Two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) say the U.S. is spending too little on public health research and 64 percent say at least twice as much should be spent.

—58 percent say that as the country looks for ways to manage health care costs, the national commitment to health-related research should be higher.

By Jennifer Warner, reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD

SOURCE: Woolley, M. The Journal of the American Medical Association, Sept. 21, 2005; vol 294: pp 1380-1384.