Oct. 20, 2008

Survey: Nearly 70 percent of public supports embryonic stem cell research
U-M ISR September Surveys of Consumers: stem cells >

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—With both presidential candidates vowing to ease federal funding restrictions on embryonic stem cell research and important scientific advances reported widely in the media, a new University of Michigan study shows a majority of the public supports embryonic stem cell research.

Nearly 70 percent of respondents support "medical research that uses stem cells from human embryos," and a smaller majority, 54 percent, believed that the current lines of embryonic stem cells approved by President Bush for federal funding are not adequate for research needs.

These results parallel trends from repeated Virginia Commonwealth University polls measuring national public support for stem cell research. In 2002, VCU data showed that 35 percent favored "medical research that uses stem cells from human embryos" and 51 percent were opposed. Support has steadily increased, and the most recent survey, in 2007, showed 54 percent in favor and 39 percent opposed.

The U-M study asked 498 respondents to the monthly random digit dial Survey of Consumers carried out by the Survey Research Center about the sources and usefulness of stem cells and their support for stem cell research. A series of true-false questions about the size and developmental stage of the embryos used in research, state laws regulating the disposition of embryos created in fertility clinics, and the adequacy of stem cell lines approved by the federal government were also included. For a sample of this size, the confidence interval for percentages around 50 percent is plus or minus 5 percentage points.