Use science to drive public health practice, says book by Saint Louis University faculty

February 05, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- Initiatives to improve public health must be driven by careful and deliberate scientific research, says a new book by four Saint Louis University School of Public Health faculty members.

"Too much of what has been done in public health is not based on sound science or has not been properly evaluated," says Ross Brownson, Ph.D., chair of community health and professor of epidemiology at Saint Louis University School of Public Health and one of the authors of "Evidence-Based Public Health."

"Instead many public health programs and policies are based upon what has been done in the past, what feels rights, what politics are involved or what funding allows."

"Evidence-Based Public Health" offers a systemic approach that draws from research results to develop a plan of action for addressing public health issues such as obesity in children, eradication of measles and hepatitis B and smoking prevention.

The book is a practical guide to tackle public health issues by developing an initial statement of the issue, quantifying the issue, searching scientific literature and organizing data, developing and prioritizing program options, creating and implementing an action plan and evaluating the program or policy. It stresses not only how to find new evidence but also how to carry out and evaluate programs already in place. The book also addresses the need for a highly trained public health workforce.

It is written for students in public health and preventive medicine and for public health professionals without extensive formal training in public health sciences. Those who work for state and local health agencies, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, healthcare organizations and national public health agencies are likely to find the information valuable.

The Saint Louis University School of Public Health faculty members who collaborated with Brownson on the book are Elizabeth Baker, Ph.D., associate professor of behavioral science and health education; Terry Leet, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology; and Kathleen Gillespie, Ph.D., associate professor of health management and policy.

"The future of public health holds enormous potential and public health professionals have more tools at their fingertips than ever before to meet these challenges," the authors write. "We hope this book will be a useful resource for bridging research with the practice of public health."

"Evidence-Based Public Health" is published by Oxford University Press and available through
Saint Louis University's School of Public Health is one of only 32 fully accredited schools of public health in the nation. Learn more about SLU at

Saint Louis University

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