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Wellcome launches worldwide health and science survey

Feedback from 140,000 people will be used to stimulate debate around key health challenges

Mark Gould

Friday, 16 February 2018

An ambitious new global study hopes to gain insights into how people think and feel about science and key health challenges.

The survey, funded by Wellcome will question 140,000 people in 140 countries on their attitudes towards science to gauge their interest in it and how much they trust it. There are also questions about specific areas of science, such as vaccines, that have universal importance and are a priority for Wellcome.

Wellcome says the survey results will provide robust evidence on how public attitudes vary across different demographic groups and countries. Wellcome says it will help promote debate, and frame proposals for action to improve engagement and trust in science and health research. It also hopes to help researchers to take account of the social and cultural context of their work.

Simon Chaplin, Wellcome's director of Culture & Society, says: "The majority of surveys exploring public attitudes to science have mainly focused on high-income countries. This is the first survey that will be carried out across a diverse set of countries and cultures. We want to find out how public attitudes to science and health vary across the globe. How do different communities relate to science? Who do they feel science benefits? Do they trust scientists? How do they weigh up different sources of evidence?

"We hope this in-depth study will create rich and useful data for Wellcome and the wider scientific community, that will help promote, debate and improve public engagement in science and health research."

The survey findings will be published in spring 2019.

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