Sixty-eight percent of Georgians feel the amount spent to find ways to protect and promote their health through prevention research - about 1 cent of every U.S. health care dollar - is too little, according to a poll released today by Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health and Research!America.
Georgians are willing to support an increase in the state's investment in prevention research in a number of ways. Seventy-nine percent support the use of a state tax check-off for voluntary donations to research, and the same percentage support designating a portion of state tobacco settlement funds. Seventy-seven percent support increasing the state's tax on tobacco, while 75 percent favor increasing the tax on alcohol. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) favor setting aside a portion of lottery sales revenues to fund health promotion and prevention research.
When choosing candidates for elected office:
- 90 percent of Georgia residents say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports increased funding for research to find cures for and to prevent disease, just behind perennial front-runners of education and job creation (91 percent each).
- Health services/health education programs are almost as important (87 percent).
- Protecting natural resources and the environment (77 percent) completes the top five issues on the minds of Georgians.
- Homeland security is close behind (75 percent).
When asked to identify health research priorities for their state, virtually all residents (99 percent) believe that cancer research should be a top or high priority, followed immediately by the nation's number one killer, heart disease/stroke (98 percent). Other important areas identified as top or somewhat high priorities for the state are diabetes and high blood pressure (96 percent), and Alzheimer's disease (94 percent).
"It is very impressive to see how clearly the public understands the need for greater investment in health research, " said Michael M.E. Johns, MD, executive vice president for health affairs and CEO of Emory's Woodruff Health Sciences Center. "As a former head and neck cancer surgeon, I am especially pleased to see the almost unanimous support for cancer research. It is reassuring that large majorities are willing to support this research by raising taxes on tobacco and alcohol and by allocating a portion of the tobacco settlement, since the tobacco settlement is indeed the funding mechanism that has supported the Georgia Cancer Coalition under both the current and the former governor."
Compared to nationwide poll results, Georgia residents are similarly concerned about health threats caused by obesity. Seventy-nine percent identified overweight and obesity as important and top priority areas for continued research. Weight-related deaths will surpass tobacco-related deaths as the number one cause of preventable death in the United States next year, according to recent findings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"The poll results clearly illustrate the interest and desire Georgia of residents have to find better ways to protect and promote health for all citizens regardless of economic status or ethnic background," said James W. Curran, MD, MPH, dean of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory.
Harris Interactive® conducted the 15-minute poll by telephone with 801 Georgia adult residents between May 27, 2003 and June 20, 2003. The survey data were weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the Georgia population using the March 2002 Current Population Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. Research!America paid for the poll.
The results have a statistical precision of plus or minus 4 percentage points.