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Public perceptions of biomedical research: a survey of the general population in Ireland.
Cousins, Grainne; McGee, Hannah; Ring, Lena; Conroy, Ronan; Kay, Elaine; Croke, David; Tomkin, David
Today's health research is tomorrow's health care. So much of what we take for granted in medical diagnosis and treatment today - antibiotics, joint replacements, heart surgery, cancer therapy, pain control - is the result of research undertaken in the past by committed and farsighted health professionals and scientists, supported mainly by public bodies with an interest in improving health through research. Those undertaking and funding research depend on the good will and the active participation of the public in the task of pushing back the frontiers of knowledge and developing better ways of protecting health and treating disease. Maintaining and developing this engagement, at a time of major advances in science and great debate about the ethical issues those advances have brought in their wake, will be crucial to ensuring that health research and heath care in Ireland remain in the front rank. This is why the Health Research Board welcomes the publication of this important study on Public Perceptions of Biomedical Research by Grainne Cousins, Hannah McGee and colleagues at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. It is the first survey of the attitudes of the general population to issues in biomedical research. Over 2,000 members of the public were asked their opinion about their willingness to donate a tissue sample for medical research, their views on procedures for informed consent to the use and storage of human tissue for medical research, their desired level of feedback on research findings to which they have contributed a sample and their awareness of and attitudes towards the retention of organs in the past. The study reminds us of the many links that the population has with the health service. Over 80 percent of respondents had been treated in hospital and nearly 60 percent had been in hospital more than once. Perhaps because of their extensive engagement with the health service, participants were supportive of medical research, with high levels of willingness to contribute excess surgical tissue for research. These findings suggest that the public is committed to making a contribution to research for their benefit and for the benefit of future patients. It confirms the findings of the latest Eurobarometer survey that found that 93 percent of Irish citizens believe that medicine and new medical technologies will have a positive effect on our way of life in the next 20 years, a proportion that is similar to that reported for all EU member states'. The survey also points to the need for better communication between those engaged in research and the public they serve. A majority of those surveyed had not heard of any medical or health-related research conducted in Ireland in the previous three months and less than 10 percent had partiCipated in a medical or health research study. Forty seven percent had heard of the Health Research Board and of those who had heard of the HRB, 66 percent had confidence in our ability to assess the benefits and risks involved in research. The survey also suggests that there is room for deeper and wider debate around the issue of consent and the identification of patient samples when donated for research. This is a debate to which the HRB would like to contribute in the interest of better health for all and is the reason we are pleased to assist with the publication and dissemination of this important study. I would like to complement the Department of Health and Children for its foresight in commissioning this study and congratulate the team for the excellence of their research and analysis. Professor Desmond Fitzgerald. Chair. Health Research Board.
Publication Date:
Type: Report
Peer-Reviewed: Unknown
Language(s): English
Contributor(s): Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Health Services Research Centre.
Institution: Lenus
Publisher(s): Health Research Board (HRB)
First Indexed: 2016-04-23 07:05:12 Last Updated: 2017-05-12 06:59:58