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Roper Center to create world’s most comprehensive health opinion database

Peter Enns

The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, housed at Cornell, has been awarded a grant to provide an easily searchable portal on the public’s views about health dating back to 1935.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded the Roper Center a $1.43 million grant to construct a Health Opinion Database that will allow researchers, students, media, nonprofits, policymakers and the public access to tens of thousands of survey questions from 1935 to the present related to the public’s attitudes about health and influences on health.

The database will include survey questions about social determinants of and influences on health as well as traditional questions on insurance, costs and health-care utilization.

It will be the most comprehensive database in the world for health-related survey questions, said Peter Enns, executive director at the Roper Center and associate professor of government.

“Our goal is to generate a valuable tool to better understand how attitudes and perceptions about health change over time and across different groups in society,” he said.

The subject matter will be wide-ranging, including Americans’ opinions on what factors affect mental sharpness, the government’s role in the conditions that influence or promote health care, health costs in retirement, and weight, smoking habits and exercise. The database will include online analysis and data visualization tools to help users understand trends over time and differences across groups.

The database will take three and a half years to develop – but users will see the effects much sooner. Many developments for the database will be incorporated into the Roper Center website, according to Enns. “Roper Center users will see ongoing benefits as the project advances,” he said.

- Susan Kelley

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Jeff Tyson