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Questionnaire Report

Investigation Report on the Cognition of Tuberculosis and Synthetic Biology


To investigate the current awareness rate of tuberculosis and synthetic biology knowledge among Chinese people so as to provide the evidence of tuberculosis health education and synthetic biology education in Chinese people.

194 tourists around the Weiming Lake of Peking University from August 16th to August 18th were selected by random sampling. The anonymous questionnaire was of our own design.

The awareness rates of the sources, routes of transmission, clinical symptoms, severity and treatment effect of tuberculosis are high, which accounted for 70%-90% among 194 tourists. However, the awareness rates of the diagnosis methods, the specific treatment methods and the national prevention and control policy of tuberculosis are less than 40%. As for the part of cognitive attitude of synthetic biology, only 6.2% of the tourists have a deeper understanding of synthetic biology, while 33.3% of the respondents have never heard of synthetic biology. The awareness rates of the selected terms about the field of synthetic biology are generally lower than 35%, of which 58.1% and 52.8% of the tourists have access to relevant knowledge through the Internet and television, respectively. 76% of the tourists agree that applying synthetic biology methods to clinical diagnosis is feasible, and 86% of the visitors are willing to use the relevant technology products if possible, the main reasons of which are rapidness, individuation and the reliable results of the new detection technology. To the contrary, the tourists who are not willing to use that detection technology mainly worry about the potential side effects, and they believe that traditional detection methods are mature enough.

Chinese people have certain knowledge of tuberculosis, but not systematic or comprehensive; they have a low awareness rate of synthetic biology, which means its popularization needs to be strengthened.

Keywords  Tuberculosis; Synthetic Biology; Cognition

Objects and Methods

194 tourists around the Weiming Lake of Peking University from August 16th to August 18th

Respondents were selected by random sampling in our investigation. The anonymous questionnaire was of our own design. A total of 200 questionnaires were distributed, and 194 questionnaires were collected, the effective recovery rate was 97% (Table 1).

Statistical analysis:
Using EpiData3.1 to import the questionnaire data based on the methods of data entry, thus to establish a database; then SPSS20.0 was used to statistical analysis.


General demographic situation

Gender and age structure

A total of 194 questionnaires were collected in this investigation, of which the proportion of men was 48.7%; for female, it was 50.8%. Most of the population was among the 15-50 years old age group, accounting for 82.3%. Therefore, the composition of gender and age of the population in the survey was different from the national population in some extent (Table 1).


Among the 194 respondents, 139 were from urban, accounting for 72.4%, and 53 were from rural, accounting for 27.6%.

Education level and economic level.

In the survey population, the educational background of the majority was undergraduate degree or above, accounting for 61.5%. The economic levels of most respondents are not bad because 71.4% of whose family income were more than 2000 yuan.

Table 1. The General Demographic Situation

Aspects Options Percentage Ratio
1.Age Below 15 13.5 26/192
15-30 35.9 69/192
30-50 46.4 89/192
50-70 4.2 8/192
Above 70 0.0 0/192
2.Gender Male 50.8 98/193
Female 48.7 94/193
3.Census register Rural 27.6 53/192
Urban 72.4 139/192
4.Degree of education Untutored 0.5 1/192
Grade school 6.3 12/192
Junior high school 13.0 25/192
High school 18.8 36/192
Undergraduate or graduate 61.5 18/192
5. Month-earning of the family Below 500 RMB 1.0 2/192
500-1999 RMB 10.4 20/192
2000-4999 RMB 40.1 77/192
Above 5000 RMB 31.3 60/192
Unknown 17.2 33/192

Awareness of tuberculosis

Most of the 194 tourists were well aware of the core issues of tuberculosis. In detail, the awareness rate of severity, the infection sources and the transmission routes of tuberculosis were 77.8%, 71.1% and 70.1%, respectively. And the awareness rate of the clinical symptoms of tuberculosis was as high as 88.7%. However, the national tuberculosis control policy awareness is much worse, only 40 people answer the related question correctly, accounting for 20.6% of the survey population. And the respondents who can answer all of the six core questions accounted for only 6.9%. As for the knowledge about specific diagnostic methods, treatment methods of the tuberculosis, the results were barely satisfactory, the awareness rate of which were just 34.5% and 7.2%, respectively.

Table 2. The Acknowledgment of Tuberculosis

Crucial questions The percentage of correctly answered(%) Ratio
1. Do you think the Tuberculosis is a disease greatly threatened human health? 77.8 151/194
2. Which is main source of infection? 71.1 138/192
3. Which is main transmission route of TB? 70.1 136/194
4. If someone get cough and expectoration more than two weeks with Hemoptysis and blood sputum. What should he or she do? 88.7 172/194
5. Whether the tuberculosis can be cured? 90.7 176/194
6. Are the drugs and treatment services for the infectious tuberculosis patients free? Male 20.6 40/194
The other question The percentage of correctly answered(%) Ratio
7. TB can be confirmed by which of the following symptom? 34.5 67/194
8. Which drugs are for the tuberculosis treatment? 7.2 14/194
9. What’s your idea about the positive result of PPD test? 36.1 70/194

Awareness of synthetic biology

Among the 194 tourists, only 12 of them has a deep understanding about synthetic biology, while 33.3% of visitors have never heard of synthetic biology. Among the people who had heard of synthetic biology, most of them had not heard of the specific professional terms in the field of synthetic biology, such as "bio-element", "molecular machine", "bio-plastics". The awareness rates of these terms were 26.4%, 21.2%, 31.1%, respectively. It deserves to be mentioned that, 68.4% of the respondents said that they had heard the term "genome", but unfortunately, only 3.6% of people had heard of iGEM. And the main ways the respondents use to access to the knowledge of synthetic biology was through the network (58.1%), the television (52.8%) and classroom lectures (30.4%).

Table 3. The Acknowledgment of Synthetic Biology

Questions Options Percentage Ratio
1. Have you ever heard of Synthetic Biology? Yes. And have some knowledge of it 6.2 12/192
Yes. But have no idea about it 59.4 114/192
No 33.3 64/192
2. Which of the following nouns you have heard before? Bio-element 26.4 51/193
Molecule machine 21.2 41/193
Gene Sequence 68.4 132/193
iGEM 3.6 7/193
Bioplastics 31.1 133/193
None of them 21.2 41/193
3. Where you heard the above nouns? Network 58.1 93/160
TV and radio 52.8 85/161
Newspapers 19.3 31/161
Neighbors 3.1 5/161
Classes and lectures 30.4 49/161
The others 10.5 17/162

Attitudes toward synthetic biology

Among the tourists who had heard of synthetic biology, the attitudes toward synthetic biology of the majority were neutral. To be specific, 70.5% of the population held the idea that synthetic biology had both advantages and disadvantages. About 76% of the population were optimistic about the development of the diagnostic methods combining the methods in synthetic biology. And 86% of the investigated people were willing to use the synthetic biology methods if possible, the main reasons were rapidness (46.4% of population choose the answer) and the individuation (51.8% of population believe this point) of the new detection technology, in addition, 37.5% of the population believes that the method is more reliable. To the contrary, the tourists who were not willing to use that detection technology mainly worry about the potential side effects (39.3% of population believe this point), and 40.7% of the population believe that traditional detection methods haven’t been well developed. (Table four)

Table 4. The Atittude Towards Synthetic Biology

Questions Options Percentage Ratio
1. What’s your attitude to the Synthetic Biology? Have no advantages 0.8 1/129
Have no disadvantages 3.9 5/129
Have both advantages and disadvantages 70.5 91/129
Have no idea 24.0 31/129
2. Do you think it possible to invent a new method of TB diagnosis make use of the knowledge of Synthetic Biology? Sure 76.0 98/129
No way 0.8 1/129
Have no idea 20.9 27/129
3. If such a method has been invented, would you like to try it? Yes 86.0 111/129
No 13.2 17/129
4. Why you would like to have a try? Cheap 8.0 9/129
Fast and convenient 46.4 52/112
Personalized medicine service 51.8 58/112
Efficacy is better 37.5 42/112
Other reason 0.0 0/112
5.Why you don’t do that? The potential side effect 39.3 12/28
It will pollute the environment 7.4 2/27
It will be expensive 18.5 5/27
The technique is not well developed 40.7 11/27
6. How much would you like to spend on such a method for your health? Less than 10 yuan 1.6 2/123
10 yuan-100 yuan 6.5 8/123
100 yuan-500 yuan 22.8 28/123
500 yuan-1000 yuan 25.2 31/123
1000 yuan-5000 yuan 36.6 45/123
More than 5000 yuan 6.5 8/123


Through this investigation, we recognize that Chinese people have a certain understanding of the basic knowledge of tuberculosis, but it is not comprehensive and systematic, especially details about the disease. The majority of the population of the survey has a neutral attitude towards synthetic biology, and most of them are optimistic about the applications and progress of synthetic biology, though only a small portion of people knows this field very well.
Therefore, on the one hand, it is necessary to strengthen the popularization of the knowledge of tuberculosis in public. The process of propaganda to the national for health education of tuberculosis should not be a slogan, and it should be in-depth and systematic. On the other hand, researchers in the field of synthetic biology should actively work for the science popularization of synthetic biology at the same time they are working for the scientific research. They are responsible for improving the people’s understanding of the synthetic biology, and attracting more people to join the development trend of synthetic biology.

Education for children

To attract children’s more attention toward synthetic biology and to popularize some basic biological concepts among them, we invited near 20 pupils to visit our laboratory. In the morning of August 17th, these children and some of their parents came to Peking University and attended a lecture given by ZHANG Yihao, the team leader.

By plain words, he made it easy for these children to understand the basic concepts of biological field and the core ideas of synthetic biology. What is the basic substance of life? What caused creatures on the earth so diversified and fascinating? Moreover, can scientists build life with fancy functions? They got the answers to all these questions above.

In the afternoon, they visited the lab of Peking iGEM. Having known how the biological researchers work in the labs, they all indicated that they hope to learn more about synthetic biology.

Education for High School Students

On August 23th, our team member YE Yixuan went to Zhenghe No.1 Middle School of Fujian Province, giving a lecture to the high school students. She mainly introduced the overview of synthetic biology and the project of Peking this year.

More than 60 students who were interested in science have attended the lecture. They were confronted with the choice of their major fields in the university, so the lecture really helped them. Ye combined the basic concepts of synthetic biology with what they had learned in school. After the lecture, a heated discussion about biology and future life began. What’s more, the project of Peking iGEM team this year was presented, for the purpose of arousing their interest in this field.

Education for Adults

Handing out propagandistic handbooks is another approach of scientific education for public. In this summer, we have wrote a comprehensive literature review about tuberculosis and synthetic biology and made a propagandist handbook easy for learning.

Every time when we finished our questionnaire surveys, we gave our informants handbooks to spread the knowledge of TB control and synthetic biology.

In the handbook, we introduce the basic information of tuberculothesis, such as route of transmission, diagnosis methods and its treatment, along with the national policies of free diagnosis and treatment on tuberculosis. After that, we give a brief description of the history of synthetic biology, combined with its application. In such a small handbook, many vivid but scientific pictures are shown. We did our best to make the words easy to be understood but rigorous.