Translating Epidemiology into Policy

Translating Epidemiology into Policy

A major area of emphasis for the American College of Epidemiology (ACE) is the intersection of epidemiology and policymaking. Although the development of policies and regulations in public health relies on epidemiologic evidence, the methods for evaluating and incorporating such evidence into policymaking are not well established.  Ad hoc, time consuming, and occasionally vexing, the process of synthesizing epidemiologic and other evidence into a rational basis for policy may lend itself to crosscutting lessons learned.  Policy decisions themselves must remain a matter of case-by-case consideration, but ACE can help discern the successful elements of a more general framework.

To better understand the intersection of epidemiology and policy, the ACE Policy Committee hosted three workshops in 2009, 2011, and 2013 at Washington University in St. Louis. The invited panelists included experts from diverse disciplines with extensive policy experience. The workshop resulted in eleven (11) case studies and two overview articles that were published in the Annals of Epidemiology. The Policy Committee has created teaching slides that go along with each case study. In using these, please credit the American College of Epidemiology and the Annals of Epidemiology.

2009 Cases

Brownson RC, Hartge P, Samet JM, Ness RB. From epidemiology to policy: toward more effective practice. Ann Epidemiol. 2010;Jun;20(6):409-411. [PDF 0]

Mercer SL, Sleet DA, Elder RW, Cole KH, Shults RA, Nichols JL. Translating evidence into policy: lessons learned from the case of lowering the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers. Ann Epidemiol. 2010;Jun;20(6):412-420. [PDF 1]
[ppt 1]

Widome R, Samet JM, Hiatt RA, et al. Science, prudence, and politics: the case of smoke-free indoor spaces. Ann Epidemiol. 2010;Jun;20(6):428-435. [PDF 2]
[ppt 2]

Brownson RC, Chriqui JF, Burgeson CR, Fisher MC, Ness RB. Translating epidemiology into policy to prevent childhood obesity: the case for promoting physical activity in school settings. Ann Epidemiol. 2010;Jun;20(6):436-444. [PDF 3]
[ppt 3]

Samet JM, McMichael GH, 3rd, Wilcox AJ. The use of epidemiological evidence in the compensation of veterans. Ann Epidemiol. 2010;Jun;20(6):421-427. [PDF 04]
[ppt 4]

Presentation by Jonathan Samet: From Epidemiologic Evidence to Policy. Johns Hopkins Summer Institute; June 25, 2010.
[ppt 5]

Presentation by Patricia Hartge: Epidemiology in Health Policy, Regulation and Law. Presentation to the Committee on Science, Technology & Law (National Academy of Sciences); May 17, 2010
[ppt 6]

2011 Cases

Davis FG, Peterson CE, Bandiera F, Carter-Pokras O, Brownson RC. How do we more effectively move epidemiology into policy action? Ann Epidemiol. Jun 2012;22(6):413-416.

Carter-Pokras OD, Offutt-Powell TN, Kaufman JS, Giles WH, Mays VM. Epidemiology, policy, and racial/ethnic minority health disparities. Ann Epidemiol. Jun 2012;22(6):446-455.
[ppt 8]

Deppen SA, Aldrich MC, Hartge P, et al. Cancer screening: the journey from epidemiology to policy. Ann Epidemiol. Jun 2012;22(6):439-445.
[ppt 9]

Strathdee SA, Magis-Rodriguez C, Mays VM, Jimenez R, Patterson TL. The emerging HIV epidemic on the Mexico-U.S. border: an international case study characterizing the role of epidemiology in surveillance and response. Ann Epidemiol. Jun 2012;22(6):426-438.
[ppt 10]

Appel LJ, Angell SY, Cobb LK, et al. Population-wide sodium reduction: the bumpy road from evidence to policy. Ann Epidemiol. Jun 2012;22(6):417-425.
[ppt 11]

2013 Cases

Aldrich MC, Hidalgo B, Widome R, Briss P, Brownson RC, Teutsch SM. The role of epidemiology in evidence-based policy making: a case study of tobacco use in youth. Ann Epidemiol. 2014 Apr 28. pii: S1047-2797(14)00149-5. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.03.005. [Epub ahead of print] [ppt 12]

Thorpe LE, Assari S, Deppen S, Glied S, Lurie N, Mauer MP, Mays VM, Trapido E. The role of epidemiology in disaster response policy development. Ann Epidemiol. 2014 Jul 3. pii: S1047-2797(14)00318-4. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.05.016.  [Epub ahead of print] [ppt 13]


Swanson JW, McGinty EE, Fazel S, Mays VM. Mental illness and reduction of gun violence and suicide: bringing epidemiologic research to policy. Ann Epidemiol. 2014 Apr 29. pii: S1047-2797(14)00147-1. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.03.004. [PDF 14]

For questions or comments about this information, email Ross Brownson ([email protected]) or Olivia Carter-Pokras ([email protected]umd.edu).

2017 Cases