Background: New drug and medical device introduction in Japan usually lags behind that in the West. Many reports indicate that in Japan, the associated risks are considered greater than the benefits recognized in other countries. This study aimed to compare the relationship between risk-benefit perception and acceptance of medical technologies in 3 leading markets. Methods: A tripartite cross-sectional survey of the general public was used. In total, 3345 adults in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Japan participated, and sexes and age groups were equally represented. Questions about the perception of risk, benefit, and acceptance of medical and other scientific technologies, and trust of medical product providers or regulatory authorities were included. Results: Five-step Likert coding for risk/benefit/acceptance of 4 medical items (x-rays, antibiotics, vaccines, and cardiac pacemakers) and 6 general items (such as automobiles and airplanes) were collected. Relationships between benefit perception and acceptance were linear for 4 medical technologies. The relationship had a similar slope but was shifted downward in Japan compared with the UK and US (P <.01), suggesting a lower acceptance in Japan for all benefit perceptions. The trend was the same between risk perception and acceptance, except for slopes that were negative. Correspondence analysis showed a strong correlation among acceptance of medical technologies, benefits of medical technologies, trust in doctors, and trust in the Department of Health. The UK and US attributes were clustered with positive responses such as “useful,” “acceptable,” and “trustworthy,” whereas Japan was clustered with intermediate to negative responses such as “neither” and “untrustworthy.” Conclusions: Acceptance of medical technologies was low in Japan because of significant differences in trust for doctors and authorities compared with that in the UK and US. This is a possible basis for delays of 24 to 60 months for medical product approval in Japan.
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