The Wellcome Trust Monitor

The Wellcome Trust is a fine building on the Euston Road, determined to improve health through engagement with society. The breakfast meeting marks the launch of the Wellcome Trust monitor, a public survey conducted every three-years to assess the public knowledge of medical research and their interactions with science. Over three waves, 1,500 adults and young people have been sharing their insight.


The full report is available to download here and there are a range of awesome looking infographics:

What was headline news for me?

  • The good news is that the public are very engaged with science. 77 % of them are ‘interested’ in medical research, compared to around » 50 % who engage with politics.

If you’ve been personally effected by a disease >> you’re more likely to be interested in medical research

  • Researchers at the Wellcome (and most Science Communicators) consistently underestimate the public interest in science. The UK want science fed to them through the medium of television (20 % want to attend lectures and science demos but only 7 % do), followed by websites and newspapers.

!!! STEM ambassadors everywhere need to revaluate their approach (myself included). We need to reconsider what we mean by engagement

  • 20 % of adults have visited a science museum in the past 12 months, 30 % have visited a gallery
  • Managers and professionals were most likely to have visited a science museum (29 %) compared to those in manual work (10 %)
  • Adults trust doctors and university scientists most (64, 59 %) whereas they don’t trust journalists at all (3 %). (The Wellcome point out that the survey was conducted during the phone hacking scandal)

🙂 University scientists are motivated by finding the truth

  • ¾ of the public would share their anonymised medical records
  • 47 % of the adults have used complementary medicine
  • Interest in medical research varies by the highest educational qualification adults have obtained. A postgraduate degree = most likely to be interested (85 per cent), no qualifications = least likely to be interested (63 per cent).

Echoing the brilliant work of Prof. Louise Archer with ASPIRES, Wellcome evaluated the impact of socioeconomic class. When it comes to thinking about the food of the future, the people who were most aware wanted to eat unpackaged food with low sugar and salt. The only group the Wellcome didn’t connect on any food front was young men, who didn’t care what they ate at all. In their data you can monitor for gender, and with regards to a ‘general understanding of science in everyday life’ there is no significant variation. There is a shift with age, those aged 35 to 49 are most likely to think this is useful (91 %), and those aged 65 or over least likely (83 %).

Check out the Wellcome Trust Monitor for more information.

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