Risks and benefits of nanotechnology: How young adults perceive possible advances in nanomedicine compared with conventional treatments

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Attitudes to nanotechnology are widely studied and are changing fast. An experiment comparing young peoples' attitudes to nanomedicine and conventional treatment was conducted on 434 undergraduate students. They answered a number of questions about a hypothetical arthritis sufferer who was to be treated with a drug or a newly invented nanomedical technique, and requiring either one treatment or several. They were more influenced by the difference between one-shot and repeated treatments than by any difference between drug- and nanodelivery. Furthermore the two treatments that seemed most negative to participants were a drug that had to be administered repeatedly, or a nanosystem that was needed only once. Participants preferred the thought of a drug that only had to be taken once, or else a nanosystem so gentle and progressive that it only took its full effect after several administrations. There was a consistent gender difference, with male participants taking a more positive view of the risks, benefits and achievements involved in the various treatments than the female participants.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-171
Number of pages12
JournalHealth, Risk and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007