Leading medical research charity Action Research is surprised at the results of a MORI poll it commissioned looking at people’s hopes for medical advances over the next 50 years. People were polled on the areas of medical research in which they would like to see the greatest medical advances. The options were conditions affecting pregnancy and birth, childhood diseases, conditions affecting primarily adults or conditions of ageing.
Despite 1 in 3 (36%) people identifying that medical research has had more impact on people’s lives than any other development over the last 50 years, only 7% wanted to see the greatest medical advances over the next 50 years made into conditions relating to pregnancy and birth. This would include such complications as premature birth.
Premature birth alone costs the NHS an estimated £200million a year and research has proven that those born very prematurely suffer from language and learning difficulties along with behavioral problems later in life. Recent figures suggest that around 7% of all babies in the UK are born prematurely. The other results show a significant desire for the greatest medical advances of the next 50 years to be in the areas of childhood diseases and conditions of ageing. These polled 37% and 30% respectively.
Only 20% wanted to see the greatest medical advances achieved into conditions primarily affecting adults.
The results come at a time when Action Research is celebrating its 50th Anniversary and half a century of funding groundbreaking medical research into conditions affecting all age groups. The charity’s funding has made possible Britain’s first polio vaccine, pioneering hip replacement surgery and the first medical use of ultrasound scanning.
John Grounds, Director of Campaigns and Communications at Action Research, commented: "It comes as a real surprise that only 7% of the public wanted to see the greatest advances made into conditions relating to pregnancy and birth. Research has proved that it is imperative to give children the best possible start in life to help avoid mental and health problems in later years. Advances resulting in methods preventing premature birth should play a major part in medical research in the 21st century."
He added: "As a charity whose work benefits all age groups, we are not suggesting that areas outside of pregnancy and birth conditions are not worthy of support. However, we believed that the figure would be a lot higher and the results of our poll should certainly generate debate in organisations that have a dedicated baby or birth focus."
Professor Neil McIntosh is an Action Researcher based at the University of Edinburgh and who is currently investigating health problems associated with premature birth.
Professor McIntosh echoed the charity’s surprise at the findings, which he thought were at odds with previous surveys. He adds: “Medical research is absolutely crucial, particularly as we understand more and more about how the health of the foetus and newborn baby can clearly influence many diseases in adult life, for example diabetes and heart disease.”
He concluded: "Research in this young age is therefore vital for the human race, from beginning to end."
Regional Highlights: · More people in the West Midlands (11%) wanted to see greater medical advances into conditions relating to pregnancy and birth than any other area of Great Britain. · A greater number of people in Wales (48%) and in the North East/ Yorkshire/Humber (45%) wanted to see the greater medical advances in the area of childhood diseases compared to the national figure of 37%. · London had the lowest number of people (23%) that wanted to see the greatest medical advances made into conditions of ageing compared to the national figure of 30%. · 40% of people in the Eastern Region (predominately East Anglia) wanted to see the greatest medical advances made into conditions of ageing compared to the national average of 30%.
For further information or to arrange an ISDN interview, please contact Duncan Barkes or Nicole Duckworth 01403 210406.
For further information on the poll, please contact Michele Corrado or Louise Vinter at MORI on 0207 347 3000
MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 2,031 (male and female) adults aged 15 plus between 18-22 October 2001. All interviews were face to face and were conducted across 188 sampling points throughout Great Britain. All data are weighted to the known national population profile.
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