Report summary

Wellcome Monitor 2020: How the British public engage with health research

This report presents the results from the fifth Wellcome Monitor, a study on public attitudes to and engagement with science and health research.

What’s inside

The report is based on a survey of more than 2,600 people in England, Wales and Scotland. It gives a snapshot of:

  • the public’s appetite for engagement with health research
  • how the public access, engage with, and get involved in health research
  • how health research engagement varies for different groups of people

Who is it for

  • public engagement practitioners
  • science communicators
  • policy makers, particularly those working in health equity

Key findings 

  1. Most people are interested in health-related information (73%) but only a minority actively seek it out (28%).
    • Younger people, those with higher educational qualifications, and people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups are more likely to actively seek it out.
  2. Research into mental health is the area that people are most interested in (75%).
  3. More people are interested in hearing directly from scientists (82%) than in 2015 (63%), yet only 36% feel that scientists are interested in their views.
  4. More people have participated in health research (18%) than in 2018 (14%).
    • When asked what participation in health research means to them, most people think of medical trials (49%).
  5. Around two in three people feel health research has had a positive impact on their life, and one in three feel it has had either no impact or a negative one.
    • Those facing financial difficulties, from BAME groups, and those aged under 50 are more likely to feel it has had either no impact or a negative one.
  6. While most people at least ‘somewhat’ trust the health information they find (93%), only 32% trust it ‘a great deal’ or ‘completely’.
    • Black people are far more likely to distrust (18%) the health information they find than White people (4%)
  7. 29% of people said they get health information from social media, but this is higher among younger people, people from BAME groups, and those facing financial difficulties.


Contact us 

For more information, contact Pri Perera at

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