Sarbanes-Oxley has led to big improvements in audit quality, according to a newly released survey.

Seventy-eight percent of the 253 public company audit committee members surveyed by the Center for Audit Quality rated overall audit quality as either "very good" or "excellent." Meanwhile, 82 percent said it has improved somewhat or significantly in the past several years.

Approximately 87 percent said the risk of inaccuracies in financial statements due to fraud is "not very high," while 60 percent agreed that the risk declined after the passage of SOX in 2002. Sixty-five percent of the respondents agreed that investors should have more confidence in the markets as a result of SOX, while 58 percent said that changes resulting from SOX had a positive impact.

"The findings confirm that public company audit quality is high and has only gotten better in recent years, according to the people closest to the process," said CAQ executive director Cindy Fornelli (pictured) in a statement.

Among the leading reasons cited for the improvement were increased audit committee oversight (92 percent), requirements regarding internal controls (87 percent), better communication within audit committees (85 percent), increased emphasis on quality by auditors (77 percent), more rigorous audits (76 percent) and audit committee oversight of auditors (76 percent).

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