Submitted by Hathy Simpson
I have been busy developing a new skill building section for the Evidence-Based Practice for Public Health (EBPPH) website, http://library.umassmed.edu/ebpph. The section is intended to provide public health practitioners and health science librarians with an overview of the process of practicing evidence-based public health. Below is a sampling of this new section.
What is Evidence-Based Public Health?
Evidence-based public health (EBPH) is the use of the best available evidence to develop interventions, policies, and health promotion programs for population-based public health practice. EBPH requires integrating public health practitioner expertise, experience, and community values with the best evidence from systematic research.
The Evidence-Based Public Health Process
Evidence-based public health process involves selecting, implementing, and evaluating demonstrated interventions to address an identified public health problem. For example, do school-based intervention programs prevent obesity in children?
The process can be broken down into six steps:
- Define the problem
- Find the evidence
- Assess the evidence
- Develop and prioritize potential solutions
- Implement the selected solution(s)
- Evaluate the results
Step 1: Define the Problem
Write a statement of the problem. This statement should include:
- The health/safety issue of concern
- The population affected by the concern
- The size and scope of the problem: Public health data and statistics to help quantify the problem can be found at PHPartners.org: Health Data Tools and Statistics (http://phpartners.org/health_stats.html)
- Potential interventions (brainstormed solutions to the problem)
- Potential outcomes of these solutions (the measurable results you hope to happen)
Step 2: Find the best evidence
Search and select the best evidence for effective solutions to the problem. The EBPPH website is designed to allow users to find the best evidence to inform public health practice decisions. The resources are arranged along a Pathway of Evidence-Based Resources. (http://library.umassmed.edu/ebpph/pathway.cfm) We recommend that you search for evidence in the following order:
- Evidence-Based Guidelines (http://library.umassmed.edu/ebpph/guidelines.cfm)
- Systematic Reviews (http://library.umassmed.edu/ebpph/syst_reviews.cfm)
- Pre-Formulated and Filtered Searches of Published Studies (http://library.umassmed.edu/ebpph/filt_search.cfm)
- Best Practices (http://library.umassmed.edu/ebpph/best_pract.cfm)
- Public Health Databases (http://library.umassmed.edu/ebpph/dblist.cfm)
- Public Health Journals (http://library.umassmed.edu/ebpph/journallist.cfm)
- Sometimes evidence, especially for a new public health problem, is not available from the published literature.
The Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce ( http://phpartners.org), provides access to additional public health information resources:
- Health data sets and statistics (http://phpartners.org/health_stats.html)
- Government reports and grey literature (http://phpartners.org/guide.html#Reports%20and%20Other%20Publications)
- Newsletters, listservs, and news feeds (http://phpartners.org/news.html)
- Policy statements, laws, and regulations (http://phpartners.org/legis.html)
- Conference abstracts, presentations, and webcasts ( http://phpartners.org/conf_mtgs.html)
Step 3: Assess the Evidence
Assess the quality, relevance, and usefulness of the evidence to solve the identified problem. Compare your community’s health problem to the research findings.
Determine the following:
- Characteristics of population groups studied or targeted
- Possible interventions to resolve the problem
- Relevance of the findings to your community’s problem and target population(s)
- Potential benefits, harms, and costs of the intervention(s)
- Barriers to implementation
The EBPPH website will link to resources for critical appraisal of public health practice evidence.
Step 4: Develop and Prioritize Potential Solutions
Based upon the results of assessment of the evidence, develop and prioritize feasible solutions to the problem.
Step 5: Implement the Selected Solution(s)
Translate the evidence into practice. Develop an action plan and implement the selected solution(s) to solve the public health problem.
Step 6: Evaluate the Results
Evaluate the implemented solutions. The evaluation should include both performance and outcome measures to determine if the program was effective in meetings its goals and objectives.
I will keep you posted on the progress of this new learning section of the website. Feedback is always accepted and greatly appreciated! I am also available to provide free training on how to search for evidence for public health practice. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-856-2085.