Drug Abuse and Crime Top Public Opinion About Children's Health Care Concerns

From 1993 to 1998, researchers at Harvard University School of Public Health designed and fielded original public opinion surveys on health issues and reviewed and synthesized existing surveys conducted by other organizations.

The purpose of the surveys was to provide ongoing public opinion information that could inform RWJF's grantmaking process. Also, the surveys were designed to further inform the public and decision-makers about trends in public opinion on topics related to RWJF's goals.

The surveys covered the topics of health care reform, gun control, children's health policy, drug policy and tobacco regulations.

Key Findings

  • A March 1993 survey found Americans ambivalent about what they wanted health care reform to accomplish.
  • Analysis of 44 surveys found that support for President Clinton's health care plan had declined over time and that public opinion on key health issues remained sharply divided.
  • A review of historical data on gun control found that both gun owners and non-owners supported specific control policies but opposed measures that might lead to taking away all guns.
  • In a 1997 survey on children's health issues, respondents identified drug abuse and crime as more serious issues than poverty and access to care, which many experts ranked as more important.
  • An analysis of data from 100 national opinion surveys found more support for severe punishment for using illegal drugs than for treatment as a policy response.
  • Another analysis found support for strict tobacco reform tempered by general concerns over high taxation and government overregulation.