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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 480304, 9 pages
Research Article

A Survey of Italian Physicians' Opinion about Stem Cells Research: What Doctors Prefer and What the Law Requires

1Department of Anatomical, Histological, Forensic and Orthopaedic Sciences, University of Rome La Sapienza, Viale Regina Elena 336, 00161 Rome, Italy
2Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo, Neuromed, IRCCS, 86170 Isernia, Italy
3Department of Obstetric Gynaecological and Urological Sciences, “Sapienza” University of Rome, 00161 Rome, Italy
4Legal Medicine Unit, Hospital “Campo di Marte”, 55100 Lucca, Italy
5Italian National Institute of Statistics, 34 Via Caduta del Forte, 65121 Pescara, Italy

Received 22 January 2014; Revised 25 March 2014; Accepted 4 April 2014; Published 30 April 2014

Academic Editor: Giacomo Frati

Copyright © 2014 Paola Frati et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


To evaluate the Italian physicians' knowledge/information level about the therapeutic potential of stem cells, the research choice between embryonic and cordonal stem cells, and the preference between autologous and heterologous storage of cordonal stem cells, we performed a national survey. The questionnaire—distributed to 3361 physicians—involved physicians of different religious orientations and of different medical specialities. Most of the physicians involved (67%) were Catholics, and the majority were gynaecologists and paediatricians (43%) who are mainly in charge to inform future mothers about the possibility of cordonal stem cells conservation. The majority of the physicians interviewed do not have specific knowledge about stem cells (59%), most of them having only generic information (92%). The largest part of physicians prefer to use umbilical cord blood cells rather than embryonic stem cells. Nevertheless, a large percentage of physicians were in favour of embryo research, especially when embryos are supernumerary (44% versus 34%). Eighty-seven % of the physicians interviewed proved to have a general knowledge about stem cells and believe in their therapeutic potential. They prefer research on cordonal stem cells rather than on embryo stem cells. Although they are in favour of heterologous stem cells donation, they still prefer cryopreservation for personal use.