Government and Charity Funding of Cancer Research: Public Preferences and Choices

Investment in medical research contributes to the continuing improvement of human health and wealth. Medical research is funded from three sources: government allocation of tax funds, medical research charities disbursing donors’ funds, and private industry investing for commercial gain. There is a substantial literature on the relationship between government and private industry funding of medical research (see here for a summary). However, little evidence is available about the relationship between government and charity funding of medical research.

Just published in Health Research Policy and Systems is a paper examining the views of the UK general public about how a change in government spending on cancer research might affect their willingness to donate, or to hypothecate a portion of their income tax payments, to cancer research charities. Stated preference data were collected via an internet survey in which respondents considered hypothetical scenarios regarding changes in the levels of government funding for cancer research. 

The results suggest that the public’s decisions about how much to donate to cancer research charities are not greatly affected by changes to government plans about the amount of funding of cancer or other medical research. Personal experience of cancer appears to be a more important driver of people’s decisions to donate to cancer research charities. If the government were to cut funding for cancer research, it seems unlikely that this would be offset by increases in donations to cancer research charities.

The study was funded by Cancer Research UK. An earlier version of the research was published as an OHE Research Paper.

Reference: Shah, K.K., Sussex, J. and Hernandez-Villafuerte, K., 2015. Government and charity funding of cancer research: public preferences and choices. Health Research Policy and Systems, 13:38. 

Download the full paper free-of-charge here.

Related research undertaken by OHE (available for free download):

HERG, OHE and RAND Europe., 2008. Medical research: what’s it worth? London: Office of Health Economics. 

Garau, M., Mordoh, A. and Sussex, J., 2011. Exploring the interdependency between public and charitable research. Report for Cancer Research UK. London: Office of Health Economics.

Posted in Other Public Policy, Research | Tagged External publications