Dozens of Polls Ask Public's Opinion on Health Policy Issues and Inform RWJF Programs

Researching public opinion on RWJF priorities

A series of public opinion polls conducted by Robert Blendon of the Harvard University School of Public Health provided data on how the American people view health policy and helped to sharpen the programmatic and communications efforts of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Blendon and his colleagues conducted more than 40 polls during the grants on American attitudes toward:

  • Providing coverage for the uninsured
  • Priorities in health care
  • Tobacco and smoking
  • Illegal drugs and drug treatment
  • Alcohol and treatment for alcohol abuse and addiction
  • End-of-life care
  • Caregiving
  • Bioterrorism.

International Communications Research (ID# 040017) did the data collection for the public opinion poll on caregiving.

Key Findings

  • Among the key findings from these polls:

    • Many Americans are unaware that the number of people without health insurance is growing, and believe that the uninsured can get medical treatment when they want it.
    • About half of all Americans show some support for increasing government efforts to aid the uninsured, even if they have to pay more taxes.
    • The American public's top health priorities are curing cancer and controlling health costs.
    • The public sees alcohol treatment programs as necessary and effective and supports increasing alcohol excise taxes to pay for them. There is less support for increasing taxes to pay for treatment for drug addiction to substances such as cocaine and heroin.
    • Following September 11, 2001, Americans identified defense against terrorist attacks in the United States and foreign policy goals related to terrorism as the top priorities for their government. Health-related issues unrelated to terrorism became less salient.
    • The incidents of anthrax led to a small increase in demand on the health system.