The Adoption of Artificial Intelligence in Health Care and Social Services in Australia: Findings From a Methodologically Innovative National Survey of Values and Attitudes (the AVA-AI Study)

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Journal of medical Internet research


BACKGROUND: Artificial intelligence (AI) for use in health care and social services is rapidly developing, but this has significant ethical, legal, and social implications. Theoretical and conceptual research in AI ethics needs to be complemented with empirical research to understand the values and judgments of members of the public, who will be the ultimate recipients of AI-enabled services. OBJECTIVE: The aim of the Australian Values and Attitudes on AI (AVA-AI) study was to assess and compare Australians' general and particular judgments regarding the use of AI, compare Australians' judgments regarding different health care and social service applications of AI, and determine the attributes of health care and social service AI systems that Australians consider most important. METHODS: We conducted a survey of the Australian population using an innovative sampling and weighting methodology involving 2 sample components: one from an omnibus survey using a sample selected using scientific probability sampling methods and one from a nonprobability-sampled web-based panel. The web-based panel sample was calibrated to the omnibus survey sample using behavioral, lifestyle, and sociodemographic variables. Univariate and bivariate analyses were performed. RESULTS: We included weighted responses from 1950 Australians in the web-based panel along with a further 2498 responses from the omnibus survey for a subset of questions. Both weighted samples were sociodemographically well spread. An estimated 60% of Australians support the development of AI in general but, in specific health care scenarios, this diminishes to between 27% and 43% and, for social service scenarios, between 31% and 39%. Although all ethical and social dimensions of AI presented were rated as important, accuracy was consistently the most important and reducing costs the least important. Speed was also consistently lower in importance. In total, 4 in 5 Australians valued continued human contact and discretion in service provision more than any speed, accuracy, or convenience that AI systems might provide. CONCLUSIONS: The ethical and social dimensions of AI systems matter to Australians. Most think AI systems should augment rather than replace humans in the provision of both health care and social services. Although expressing broad support for AI, people made finely tuned judgments about the acceptability of particular AI applications with different potential benefits and downsides. Further qualitative research is needed to understand the reasons underpinning these judgments. The participation of ethicists, social scientists, and the public can help guide AI development and implementation, particularly in sensitive and value-laden domains such as health care and social services.

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