Tampa, Fla. (BLOOM) — Researchers from the University of South Florida (USF) and Florida Atlantic University (FAU) have unveiled the results of a comprehensive statewide survey that delves into Floridians’ attitudes on key health policy matters. The survey, conducted between August 10-21, 2023, and sponsored by the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at USF, sheds light on public opinion regarding COVID-19 misinformation, artificial intelligence, medical marijuana, and the opioid crisis.

COVID-19 Misinformation Persists

Despite ongoing efforts to combat misinformation, a significant number of Floridians continue to hold false beliefs about COVID-19 vaccines. For instance, 51% believe that natural infection provides better immunity than vaccination, and 49% think that the vaccines contain a “live strain” of the virus. These beliefs are at odds with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines and scientific consensus.

Political affiliations also appear to influence attitudes toward the pandemic. Democratic respondents were more willing to receive ongoing vaccine boosters, with 84% in favor, compared to 53% of Republicans.

Divided Opinions on Artificial Intelligence

Floridians are split on the potential benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) in American society. While 46% believe AI will be beneficial, 45% disagree. A significant 75% of respondents expressed concerns about the risks AI poses to human security, and 70% support a temporary pause on AI development in the United States.

When it comes to healthcare, 50% believe that AI will improve patient outcomes. However, comfort levels vary for specific applications, such as scheduling appointments (84% comfortable) and assisting doctors in surgical procedures (46% comfortable).

Support for Marijuana Legalization

The survey found broad support for the legalization of medical marijuana, with 83% in favor. Additionally, 60% of respondents support the legalization of recreational marijuana. Concerns about the misuse of medical marijuana were relatively low, with 45% agreeing that it is being abused.

Mixed Views on Opioid Crisis and Harm Reduction

Floridians had varied opinions on harm reduction policies related to the opioid crisis. A majority (73%) support syringe exchange programs in all counties, while opinions on the use of Narcan by first responders were more divided.

Disclosure and Education on HIV

The survey also touched on the sensitive topic of HIV disclosure. Nearly half of the respondents felt that persons living with HIV should disclose their status before kissing (47%) or intercourse (40%). Public opinion was also divided on penalties for non-disclosure.

However, there was strong support for increasing public education on HIV prevention methods, including raising awareness on condom use (95%) and HIV medications (94%).

The survey, which included 600 adult Floridians and has a margin of error of +/- 4%, serves as a snapshot of the state’s complex and often divided opinions on critical health policy issues. As Florida continues to navigate these challenges, the data provides valuable insights for policymakers, healthcare providers, and the general public.

For the complete survey results, click here.

This article is based on a press release from the University of South Florida and Florida Atlantic University.