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AI and healthcare: St. Louisans report limited understanding, more negative than positive

Only 8% of a panel of St. Louis adults said they understood Artificial intelligence (AI) “very well,” and asked specifically about AI and healthcare, more had heard about potential negative impacts than benefits (50% vs. 38%).

Most respondents said they understood AI only “somewhat well” (61%), or “not well at all” (30%). Males reported greater understanding than females. Asked about four potential benefits of AI for healthcare, fewer than one third had heard about AI being applied to improve treatment (31%), make healthcare delivery more efficient (29%), improve patient outcomes (27%) or improve treatment effectiveness (20%). Comparatively more respondents had heard concerns about AI and ethics (36%), reliability and accuracy of health recommendations (35%), privacy and security of patient data (31%) or taking jobs from healthcare professionals (30%).

Recent media reports have highlighted the promise of AI in healthcare, with breakthrough innovations like the discovery of a new antibiotic that destroys drug-resistant bacteria (CNN). Yet questions remain about its reliability in healthcare, such as reports of an AI chatbot from the National Eating Disorder Association that was recently taken down for providing harmful advice to users (The Guardian). These examples emphasize the importance of having transparent, balanced discussions about the pros and cons of AI in healthcare as science advances.

This week’s report is based on 158 responses from a panel of adult residents of St. Louis City and County surveyed from Saturday, June 3, to Monday, June 5, 2023. Explore these data and more at iHeardSTL.

Visit iHeardSTL.org to learn more.

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