Americans (Very) Cautiously Optimistic About Medical Innovations: Pew Survey Results

August 9, 2013
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Pew Research medical innovations

Originally published on MedCityNews.com.

We’ve heard what futurists think about the near future of medicine — that robots will replace doctors and we’ll be surrounded by sensors – but an interesting new survey conducted by Pew Research Center asked average Americans for their take on medical innovations.

Pew Research medical innovations

Originally published on MedCityNews.com.

We’ve heard what futurists think about the near future of medicine — that robots will replace doctors and we’ll be surrounded by sensors – but an interesting new survey conducted by Pew Research Center asked average Americans for their take on medical innovations.

A majority of the 2,012 American adults surveyed were generally optimistic that scientific breakthroughs, like a cure for cancer, will occur within the next few decades. But they are also concerned that those treatments won’t be tested thoroughly before hitting the market and won’t be accessible to non-wealthy people.

While scientists have been all over the map with predictions on when there will be a cure for most cancers, about seven in 10 respondents thought there would be a cure for most forms by 2050. The same percentage predicted that artificial arms and legs would perform better than natural ones by 2050. That’s a pretty tall order, until you think about how far prosthetics have come over the past three decades.

Some more interesting tidbits from Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project survey “Living to 120 and Beyond: Americans’ Views on Aging, Medical Advances and Radical Life Extension:”

  • More than half of adults said they wouldn’t undergo medical treatments to slow the aging process so they would live to be 120 or more
  • The median ideal life span was 90 years
  • 4 in 10 Americans say medical treatments these days often create as many problems as they solve
  • Only 1 in 4 adults has “a lot” of confidence that new medicines and treatments have been carefully tested before becoming available to the public
  • Two-thirds think that only wealthy people will have access to breakthrough treatments
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Despite widespread media reports of privacy and security breaches involving electronic medical records, 57% of those surveyed said they do not worry much or at all about healthcare providers keeping their medical records confidential. One in five said they worry a lot about it.

[Image from Pew Research Center]