Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/43307
- We are what we do: research outputs of public health
Sanson-Fisher, Rob W.;
Campbell, Elizabeth M.;
Htun, Aye Thidar;
Bailey, Laura J.;
Millar, Cynthia J.
- The University of Newcastle. Faculty of Health, School of Medicine and Public Health
- Background: If public health research does not progress beyond descriptive research to testing the effectiveness of interventions that can provide causal data, its contribution to evidence-based practice will not be realized. This paper examined the number and percentage of public health research publications over three time periods (1987–1988, 1997–1998, 2005–2006) for three preventive health issues: tobacco use, alcohol use, and inadequate physical activity. Methods: A computer-based literature search was conducted, using the Medline and PsycINFO databases. A random sample of 1000 abstracts for each preventive health issue was examined per time period. The abstracts were first categorized as public health or not, and then as data-based or non–data-based public health research. Data-based publications were classified according to research type as measurement-, descriptive/epidemiologic-, or intervention-oriented. Data analysis occurred in 2007. Results: The number of data-based public health research publications examined for each topic ranged between 180 and 346 in 1987–1988, 199 and 322 in 1997–1998, and 302 and 364 in 2005–2006. Despite a significant increase over time in the percentage of intervention publications for tobacco (from 10% in 1987–1988 to 18% in 2005–2006, p=0.008), the majority of publications in all three time periods were descriptive/epidemiologic for all topics (62%–87% in 1987–1988, 64%–85% in 1997–1998, 78%–79% in 2005–2006). There were fewer measurement (3%–7% in 1987–1988, 2%–6% in 1997–1998, 4%–10% in 2005–2006) or intervention publications (9%–31% in 1987–1988, 10%–30% in 1997–1998, 12%–18% in 2005–2006). Conclusions: Descriptive research does not provide optimal evidence for how to reduce preventable illness. Reasons for the lack of measurement and intervention public health research are explored.
- American Journal of Preventive Medicine Vol. 3, Issue 4, p. 380-385
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