The Harvard Opinion Research Program has played a key role in over 300 public opinion surveys on health and social policy in the U.S. and more than fifteen other countries. The Program is unique in its effort to assess people’s attitudes in relationship to their knowledge, values, and experiences. The Program’s researchers have published more than 200 articles in five major areas of research: health care policy, health and public safety emergencies, economic and social policies, international comparative studies, and elections.
Health care policy studies: The Program conducts and analyzes opinion surveys on a variety of health policy issues, including Medicare, the uninsured, national health system reform, managed care, tobacco and drug use, end-of-life care, abortion, access to medical care, and individuals’ experiences with health services. One collaborative study received the National Press Club’s 1998 Award for Consumer Journalism.
Health and safety emergencies: The Harvard School of Public Health Project on the Public and Biological Security conducts opinion surveys to assess public knowledge, attitudes, and behavior in response to threats of health and safety emergencies including terrorism / bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases, as well as global climate change and its health consequences. The Project is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through a cooperative agreement with the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) to provide CDC and other public officials with technical assistance for public health communication by monitoring the response of the general public to public health threats.
Economic and social policies: The Program has conducted surveys on a number of other domestic policy issues. The Program’s research has provided timely insights on policy debates about Social Security, public schools, poverty and welfare, the economy, race, and moral values. A series the Program conducted with the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
International comparative studies: Program researchers have collaborated in the design and analysis of surveys on health and social policy issues in fifteen countries. Opinion surveys provide insights into how well the health and social systems of various countries satisfy the needs and expectations of those countries’ citizens.
Election studies: For more than a decade, Program researchers have conducted studies of the attitudes of voters in national and state elections. Topics include the health care agenda of voters in U.S. national elections, the role of issues in elections, and the views of issues voters.