Campus Author: Evidence-Based Public Health

Book by two WUSTL authors, others, bridges research and real-life situations

In an ideal world, public health professionals employ scientific evidence to make management decisions, develop policies and implement programs.

Instead, these decisions often are based on short-term demands rather than research, and policies and programs are sometimes developed from anecdotal evidence.

The new edition of Evidence-Based Public Health aims to bridge research and evidence with policies and the practice of public health.

The book is written by Ross C. Brownson, PhD, a professor at the School of Medicine and at the Brown School, and William R. True, PhD, research professor of social work, both of Washington University; Elizabeth A. Baker, PhD, and Kathleen N. Gillespie, PhD, of Saint Louis University; and the late Terry L. Leet, PhD. The five public health specialists based the book on a training program they’ve taught worldwide for the past 13 years.

According to Brownson, also codirector of the Prevention Research Center, this book addresses how to choose, carry out and evaluate evidence-based programs and policies in public health settings.

“Though great strides have been made in recent decades toward ensuring more effectiveness in public health practice, much still remains to be done,” says Brownson, also a faculty scholar of Washington University’s Institute for Public Health.

The book also illustrates how public health can make a difference in people’s lives.

“An example is the childhood obesity epidemic,” Brownson says. “We’re implementing and evaluating approaches for helping children to be more active through school physical education or walk-to-school programs.”

Historically, public health efforts contributed to the global eradication of smallpox and the success of state-based programs to reduce tobacco use in California, Florida and other states.

Brownson says the book will be useful to professionals, students and researchers in the fields of public health and preventative medicine.