Texans Want More Spent on Prevention Research

April 19, 2004

*Partnership announced to support efforts to find better ways to protect and promote health*
Houston, Texas—April 19, 2004—Sixty-five percent of Texans feel the current amount spent on prevention research—less than one cent of every U.S. health care dollar—is too little, according to a poll released today at a Texas Public Health Association meeting in Houston.
Texans are willing to support an increase in the state’s investment in health promotion and disease prevention research. Seventy-five percent support the use of a portion of lottery sales revenues, while 74 percent support increasing the state’s tax on alcohol, and 72 percent favor increasing the state’s tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products to support prevention research.
Research!America’s Prevention Research Initiative released the poll as the first step in a statewide partnership with University of North Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health; the School of Rural Public Health at The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center; and the University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston. Over the next year, the partnership will organize a series of advocacy trainings and media/science forums throughout Texas to raise awareness and support for public health research.
“The poll results clearly illustrate the interest and desire Texas residents have for finding better ways to protect and promote health, even in times of fiscal crisis,” said Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, Texas Commissioner of Health. “The partnership between the Texas schools of public health further demonstrates our dedication as a state to promoting prevention and public health research. We must understand what works in health promotion. This partnership is good news for the people of Texas because by combining resources and working together, we ensure that their voice is heard.”
Eighty-six percent of those polled say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports increased funding for research to find cures and prevent disease. Support for education (89 percent) is slightly more important, and job creation and health services/health education programs are almost as important (84 percent) when choosing candidates. Protecting natural resources and the environment (74 percent) completes the top five issues. Homeland security is close behind (69 percent).
“Obesity, high cholesterol, diet and exercise are closely associated with heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. Clearly Texans value public health and appreciate how addressing those concerns through prevention research can lead to significant reductions in health problems. This partnership is a unique opportunity to bring all key players together to find better ways to protect and promote health for all citizens,” said Fernando Trevino, PhD, MPH, dean of the School of Public Health, University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.
Other findings released today include:
* 98 percent believe cancer research should be a top or high priority.
* 97 percent say heart disease research should be a top or high priority. Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States.
* 95 percent say diabetes research should be a top or somewhat high priority for research in the state.
* A strong majority (70 percent) believes that money received by the state and counties from tobacco settlements should be spent on health promotion and public health research.
“This poll puts in stark contrast the difference between what Texans say they want, and the trend we’ve seen recently of deep cuts in funding for prevention research and higher education,” said Stephen H. Linder, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Institute of Health Policy at the UT School of Public Health. “We need to urge a higher priority be placed on research that will ultimately improve our quality of life and make people healthier and safer.”
“We need to invest more in protecting our health and quality of life instead of waiting until we get ill and have to receive costly treatments,” said Dr. Ciro V. Sumaya, dean of the School of Rural Public Health—a unit of The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center.
“Prevention research helps improve our quality of life and enables people to have healthier futures,” said Mary Woolley, president of Research!America. “Clearly Texans understand this and want research that is aimed at preventing disease and disability to receive the necessary funding so that all citizens can be assured of those benefits.”
Research!America is a not-for-profit, membership-supported public education and outreach alliance founded in 1989 to make medical and health research—including research to prevent disease, disability and injury and to promote health—a much higher national priority.
Harris Interactive® conducted the 15 minute poll by telephone with 807 Texas adult residents ages 18 and over between July 12 and August 9, 2002. The survey data were weighted by age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, income, Metropolitan Statistical Area, household size and the number of telephone lines in the household to reflect the demographic composition of the Texas population using the March 2002 Current Population Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The results have a statistical precision of plus or minus 4 percentage points of what they would be if the entire population of Texas had been polled.
John Friedman, Research!America, 703-739-2577, ext. 20
Andrea Pool, A&M Health Science Center, 979-458-0773
Liz Trevino, UNT Health Science Center, 817-793-5860
David Bates, UT Health Science Center at Houston, 713-500-3050

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