People who find it "difficult" or "very difficult" to get by financially in upper-middle- and high-income countries have lower confidence in hospitals and health clinics than those in low-income or lower-middle-income countries, a report from the Wellcome Trust finds.
Based on a survey of more than a hundred and forty thousand people around the world, the report, Wellcome Global Monitor: How Does the World Feel About Science and Health Topics? (119 pages, PDF), found that while respondents in high-income countries overall were about as likely as those in lower-middle-income countries to have confidence in hospitals and clinics (78 percent and 82 percent, respectively), people who were struggling financially in upper-middle- and high-income countries were less likely to have confidence in healthcare facilities (63 percent and 68 percent) than those who were struggling in lower-middle- and lower-income countries (77 percent and 71 percent). The gap in confidence between respondents who were "living comfortably" and those who were "finding it difficult or very difficult" to get by was greatest in high-income countries (84 percent vs. 68 percent).
In addition, while 69 percent of all respondents said the work that scientists do benefits "people like them," only 41 percent believed it benefits "most" people in their country, 34 percent said it benefits "some," and 15 percent said it benefits "very few." In high-income countries, people who were "finding it difficult" to get by were about three times as likely as people who say they are "living comfortably" (14 percent vs. 5 percent) to be skeptical about whether science benefits them personally or society as a whole.
The survey also found that 92 percent of respondents globally said their children were vaccinated, while only 74 percent of North Americans agreed it was important for children to be vaccinated and 6 percent of parents worldwide said their children were unvaccinated. According to the report, 64 percent of global respondents for whom religious affiliation was an important part of daily life said they would believe their religious teachings over science.
"Science can change our understanding of the world, influence the way we live and how our communities function. We must remember that science is part of society: it needs to be done with the public, not just for them," said Simon Chaplin, director of culture and society at Wellcome Trust. "Wellcome Global Monitor has also found that alongside learning science at school or college, confidence in key national institutions such as the government, the military, and the judiciary, are among the strongest factors which relate to a person's trust in science. This is all connected. We must work together if we are to improve health for everyone across the world. I hope this survey helps researchers, funders and health professionals to share, collaborate and learn from one another."