As the U.S. government has led a large-scale response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has brought infectious disease control back to the forefront of the American consciousness.
Most Americans are now familiar with the term “public health” and assign public health agencies broad responsibility over many issues, including chronic and infectious disease prevention, mental health, health care, and substance abuse.
This survey finds that the public broadly believes that the activities of public health agencies are important to the health of the United States and supports substantial increases in spending on public health programs, but has serious concerns about how the system functions now. The public lacks the high level of trust in key public health institutions necessary to address today’s and future challenges.
Despite a broad awareness and recognition for the important role public health agencies play in protecting and promoting the health of the general public and vulnerable groups, this survey also shows the American public has higher trust in health care professionals than public health institutions and agencies and a substantial minority of the public does not trust health information shared by their state and local public health departments.
These findings raise notable concerns for leaders working to shape the future of the United States public health system in the post-COVID-19 era of the 21st century. If this important field is to move ahead, it has to address the concerns of lack of trust and inadequate performance ratings for major public health institutions and agencies.