A new report has found that the majority of Americans feel uncomfortable with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in their healthcare. According to the Pew Research Center, six in ten U.S. adults say they would feel uneasy if their healthcare provider relied on AI to diagnose and recommend treatments, while only 39% say they would feel comfortable with it.
The report explored American’s attitudes toward four specific applications of AI in healthcare that are either in use today or being developed for widespread use. These applications are AI-based tools for skin cancer screening, AI-driven robots that can perform parts of surgery, AI-based recommendations for pain management following surgery, and AI chatbots designed to support a person’s mental health.
The survey found that public awareness of AI in healthcare is still developing, and even at this early stage, Americans make distinctions between the types of applications they are more and less open to. For instance, the majority of respondents said they would want AI-based skin cancer detection used in their own care and believe that this technology would improve the accuracy of diagnoses. However, large shares of Americans said they would not want any of the three other AI-driven applications used in their own care.
When it comes to AI-based skin cancer screening, 65% of U.S. adults said they would definitely or probably want AI to be used for their own skin cancer screening, and about half believe that AI would make skin cancer diagnoses more accurate. Americans who are aware of this AI application view it as a major advance for medical care. On the other hand, only 31% of Americans said they would want AI-based recommendations for pain management following surgery, and just four in ten said they would want AI-driven robots to perform their own surgery. This suggests that while Americans are generally accepting of AI in healthcare, they are more cautious when it comes to certain applications.
The use of AI chatbots for mental health support received the least support, with a large majority of U.S. adults saying they would not want to use an AI chatbot if they were seeking mental health support. The report found that only 20% of respondents said they would want to use an AI chatbot for mental health support, and 46% said these chatbots should only be used by people who are also seeing a therapist.
The report also found that demographic differences affect Americans’ views on the use of AI in healthcare. Men are generally more inclined than women to say they would want AI-based robots for their own surgery, while younger adults are more likely than older adults to say they would want AI applications for skin cancer screening or pain management. Those with higher levels of education are also more open to the use of AI in healthcare.
The report concludes that public opinion on the use of AI in healthcare is still developing, with many Americans still uncertain about the technology’s potential benefits and risks. As AI becomes more prevalent in healthcare, it will be important to address these concerns and ensure that patients are comfortable with the use of AI in their care.