Researchers and anyone interested in a range of health-related topics now have access to decades’ worth of public opinion with the launch of the Health Poll Database, a new resource created and curated by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at Cornell University.
Supported by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the new database offers the public unprecedented access to questions and results from more than 85 years of U.S. national polls on health-related topics. This new resource promotes an understanding of public opinion on a broad range of health issues.
“The past year and a half has illuminated how issues from health care access to housing to food security to climate change can significantly affect our health and well-being,” said Brian Quinn, associate vice president for research, evaluation and learning at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “We were excited to support this project because it will allow policymakers, researchers, journalists and others to dig deep into the public’s views on broad issues impacting our health and efforts to advance equity.”
The Health Poll Database will initially include approximately 70,000 questions on a broad range of topics – from disease prevention and health care access to social determinants of health, such as experiences of discrimination or availability of quality child care. An innovative visual search feature educates users on concepts in health and health policy while demonstrating the interconnectedness of different health issues.
“The Health Poll Database highlights the Roper Center and Cornell’s commitment to pushing new frontiers in data science, health policy and community engagement,” said Peter Enns, professor in the Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy and in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Robert S. Harrison Director of the Cornell Center for Social Sciences. “The database will be an incredible resource to students, media, community partners and many others and we are grateful for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s support.”
The Health Poll Database also introduces a “Roper Trends” feature, which allows users to track public opinion on a variety of health subjects over time. Demographic crosstab tables also allow users to easily identify differences in attitudes by sex, age, income, health status and other factors.
“The focus of this tool is health and health care in the United States, but the interface breaks new ground for public opinion research,” said Robert Shapiro, chair of the Roper Center’s board of directors and the Wallace S. Sayre Professor of Government and International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.
“This comprehensive collection will enable researchers and others to track opinion trends and also how the opinions of different population subgroups have differed and varied over time as well,” Shapiro said. “The Health Poll Database should expand the use and impact of public opinion research by policymakers, public health advocates, and interested members of the public.”
The Health Poll Database offers limited free access for all users and more extensive coverage for Roper Center member organizations.