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 nearly 30 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, listed below.
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. A recent study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the experiences of health care consumers across the country and in seven states.
Health and safety emergencies: HORP’s Project on the Public and Biological Security focuses on opinion surveys to assess public knowledge, attitudes, and behavior in response to threats of health and safety emergencies including emerging infectious diseases, natural disasters and bioterrorism. The Project has been funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through cooperative agreements with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) to provide public health officials with technical assistance for public health communication by monitoring public response to emerging health threats. Particular efforts have focused on Zika virus, ebola and H1N1.
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. An ongoing polling series with POLITICO focuses on current health and related domestic policy issues. An ongoing polling series with National Public Radio focuses on life in rural America.
International public health and health policy studies: Program researchers have collaborated in the design and analysis of surveys on health and social policy issues in nearly thirty 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. Further, researchers have particular expertise in developing knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAPs) polls to help public health practitioners and policymakers communicate and engage more effectively with the publics they serve regarding specific programs. In this arena, the Harvard Opinion Research Program has held a PCA with UNICEF since 2013 that has led to a critically important knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAPs) research process supporting improved social and behavioral communication programs in polio-priority countries and has laid the foundation for the global communication strategy for polio.
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. Findings from these studies routinely appear as Perspective and Special Report articles in The New England Journal of Medicine. The most recent article on public opinion and the future of the Affordable Care Act can be accessed on the NEJM site.