Two-thirds of people believe the NHS should provide fertility treatment

Ipsos research conducted on behalf of the Progress Educational Trust (PET) examines UK attitudes towards issues around fertility treatment and genomics in medicine

The author(s)

  • Ben Glanville Senior Consultant, Observer, UK
  • Sarah Shepherd Research Director
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The Progress Educational Trust (PET) and Ipsos explored UK adults’ attitudes and beliefs around fertility treatment and genomics in medicine. The survey was wide-ranging in the topics that it investigated within this area; findings, adapted from the contents of PET’s report entitled “Fertility, Genomics and Embryo Research: Public Attitudes and Understanding”, include the following:

  • Survey participants were introduced to fertility treatment as ‘medical intervention to help people conceive’. Respondents showed support for the NHS offering fertility treatment for people who are infertile and wish to conceive, with two-thirds (67%) saying that this treatment should be offered (31% saying ‘Yes, definitely’ and 36% saying ‘Yes, probably’).
  • Just over a quarter - 26% - of respondents were aware that surrogacy is legal throughout the UK, despite the fact that surrogacy has been regulated and permitted by UK law for almost 40 years.
  • The posthumous use of a person’s sperm or eggs to conceive a child can be contentious, but a majority (60%) of those surveyed thought that this should be permissible in instances where the deceased was the husband/wife/partner of the person wishing to conceive, or where the deceased was a family member of the person wishing to conceive.
  • Fewer than 6 in 10 respondents (54%) were able to choose a scientifically correct definition of the term ‘genome’, and only around a tenth of respondents (11%) were able to choose a scientifically correct definition of the term ‘embryo’ (when shown varying timeframes and asked to select how long the term ‘embryo’ is applicable for).
  • A majority of respondents (53%) supported the use of whole genome sequencing to screen newborn babies, for a larger number of rare conditions than are screened for using current methods.
  • When it comes to embryo research, more respondents supported than opposed the use of human embryos in scientific and medical research to help understand, and develop treatments for, congenital disease (41% support vs. 19% oppose). Additionally, more people supported than opposed the funding of such research by the UK Government (44% support vs. 17% oppose).

The Progress Educational Trust’s report, based on the findings of the research, can be accessed here.

Technical note:

  • Ipsos interviewed a sample of 2,233 adults aged 16-75 in UK using its online i:omnibus between 24 and 27 March 2022. Data has been weighted to the known offline population proportions for age, working status and social grade within gender and Government office region.
     

The author(s)

  • Ben Glanville Senior Consultant, Observer, UK
  • Sarah Shepherd Research Director

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