University of Wisconsin–Madison

National Opinion Survey on Health and Health Disparities

Under the leadership of Stephanie Robert and Bridget Booske Catlin and with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this study was designed to increase understanding of general knowledge and attitudes about health and health disparities, and to determine which socioeconomic policy areas are viewed as important for improving health and reducing health disparities. In particular, this project aims to understand whether the public recognizes that there are social determinants of health beyond individual behavior and access to medical care, and whether the public would support social policy as a way to improve health and reduce health disparities in this country.

The survey was designed to describe views and attitudes about:

  • The determinants of health;
  • The existence and causes of health disparities;
  • Policy areas that are understood to impact health and health disparities;
  • The priorities for remedies to improve health and reduce health disparities; and,
  • How demographic, social, ideological and political characteristics relate to their knowledge of health and health disparities.

Phone surveys were conducted between November 2008 and February 2009 with a national sample of U.S. adults. Results will be disseminated through both academic publication routes, and through mechanisms meant to directly increase public discourse on the multiple determinants of health and health disparities.