The world’s biggest survey into public attitudes to health and science publishes today, revealing high overall global trust in doctors, nurses and scientists, and high confidence in vaccines.
Wellcome Global Monitor also shows, however, that half of the world’s population say they know little – if anything – about science. And almost one in five feel excluded from the benefits of science.
The survey asks more than 140,000 people, aged 15 and older, in over 140 countries, how they think and feel about health and science.
It is the first global survey of its kind and highlights questions that need to be answered to ensure science and health research benefits everyone equally, wherever they are in the world. It also reveals attitudes about science that are important to improving global health, including a complex picture of confidence in vaccines in high-income countries.
Key findings from Wellcome Global Monitor
Conducted by Gallup World Poll, the survey explores levels of trust and knowledge across science and health, revealing how this differs across ages, nationalities and genders.
- Three-quarters of the world’s population trust doctors and nurses more than anyone else for health advice.
- Globally, around eight in 10 people agree vaccines are safe, and nine in 10 people worldwide say their children have been vaccinated.
- People living in high-income countries have the lowest confidence in vaccines.
- In most parts of the world, higher confidence in health systems, governments, and scientists is a sign of high trust in vaccines – but the picture is more complicated in Europe.
- In almost every region of the world, men are significantly more likely to say they had a good level of understanding of science, compared to women.
For many countries – including Colombia, Nigeria, Egypt and Vietnam – the survey offers the first insights into what people think about these issues.
Wellcome Global Monitor highlights
Doctors and nurses are most trusted for health advice
What we know about science – and how we think it benefits society
- 73% of people worldwide would trust a doctor or nurse more than any other source of health advice, including family, friends, religious leaders or famous people.
- But across the world, people with the lowest household income have less confidence in hospitals and healthcare systems.
- Overall, 72% of people globally trust scientists.
- But over half (57%) of the world’s population don’t think they know much – if anything – about science.
- Almost one in five (19%) believe that science does not benefit them personally.
- Alongside learning science at school or college, confidence in key national institutions such as the government, the military and the judiciary are among the strongest factors that relate to a person’s trust in science.
More than three-quarters of the world’s population agree that vaccines are safe and effective
Most parents say their children are vaccinated – and most adults agree they are important
- Worldwide, 79% of people agree that vaccines are safe and 84% agree that they are effective.
- Trust in vaccines tends to be strongly linked to trust in scientists and medical professionals; people who have strong trust in scientists overall are more trusting of vaccines, and vice versa.
- Bangladesh and Rwanda have the strongest confidence in vaccines – with almost all people in both countries agreeing vaccines are safe, effective and important for children to have. Rwanda also has the highest trust in their healthcare system, at 97% – compared to a global average of 76%.
- However, around a fifth of people in Europe either disagree or are unsure of whether vaccines are safe. This is despite 86% trusting doctors and nurses and 21% showing high trust in scientists.
- The lowest confidence levels in relation to vaccines are in Western Europe where more than one in five (22%) of people disagree that vaccines are safe, and in Eastern Europe where 17% disagree that vaccines are effective.
- France has the lowest levels of trust in vaccines globally: a third (33%) of its inhabitants disagree that vaccines are safe and a tenth (10%) disagree they are important for children to have.
- 92% of parents worldwide say their children have received a vaccine to prevent them from getting childhood diseases.
- 92% of adults globally, including those who do not have children, agree vaccines are important for children to have.
- But worldwide 6% of parents say their children are unvaccinated, representing more than 188 million parents globally.
- The countries with the highest numbers of parents claiming to not vaccinate their children are China (9%), Austria (8%) and Japan (7%).
Significant gap in what men and women say they know about science
- Men are more likely to claim greater science knowledge than women. This gender gap exists even when men and women report equal levels of science attainment.
- Globally, 49% of men worldwide say they know 'some' or 'a lot' about science, compared to 38% of women.
- The gap is biggest in Northern Europe, where 75% of men claim to know "a lot" or "some" science, compared to just 58% of women.
- It is lowest in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, which had a percentage gap of three points.