142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

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Distinguishing health study findings from public policy goals promotes peace, justice and health

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014: 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Public health activists promote principles such as peace, human rights, ecological sustainability and social justice that affect health and disease through diverse physical, biological and social mechanisms. Although rooted in diverse theory and evidence, such principles are not hypotheses subject to refutation by specific studies; rather they are evolving world-views that integrate science, morality and politics. In contrast, health studies evaluate specific exposures and diseases. Public health activists choose topics because of their relevance to broad principles. For example, studies that document health impacts of radiation, chemicals, or war could support action to control nuclear power or weapons. Tensions can arise if study findings do not support broader principles, for example, if research fails to demonstrate disease excesses among exposed people. Likewise, research that finds disease to be associated with exposures may be accepted uncritically. This double standard undermines both science and public health by over-emphasizing the importance of narrow research questions and by neglecting weaknesses of specific health studies. Because exposure assessments and epidemiologic studies are often insensitive to effects under investigation, they are useful to industries seeking to avoid regulation and responsibility for health damages. Over-emphasis on this type of research is not in the public interest. Panelists in this session will identify common pitfalls in assessment of health study findings, describe the importance of maintaining broad principles and scientific integrity, and provide examples related to energy, military production and agriculture.
Session Objectives: Compare the principles of peace, human rights, ecological sustainability and social justice to the objectives of scientific inquiry related to health outcomes; Describe common pitfalls in assessment of health study findings related to peace and social justice; Evaluate the impacts of these tensions on science and public health.
Madeleine Scammell, D.Sc. and David Tuller, DrPH

War, public health and institutional conflicts of interest
Shelley White, PhD, MPH and Wesley Epplin, MPH

See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.

Organized by: Peace Caucus
Endorsed by: Socialist Caucus

CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH) , Masters Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES)

See more of: Peace Caucus