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How do we Translate Science into Public Health Policy and Law?

Authors: 
Fielding JE, Marks JS, Myers BW, et al.
Article Title: 
How do we Translate Science into Public Health Policy and Law?
Year: 
2002
Volume: 
30
Number: 
3 supplemental
Pages: 
22-32
Abstract: 

Scientific knowledge concerning effective preventive measures to preserve and protect the health of the public continues to grow exponentially. Methods for assessing the impact of population-based interventions such as policies and laws have also greatly increased in the past decade, including systematic approaches that allow general findings to be drawn from various studies, especially those developed as part of the Guide to Community Preventive Services (Community Guide). However, the translation of the collected scientific evidence gathered to date has been spotty and problematic. Success stories do exist, including community water fluoridation, a significant factor in improvements in reduction of tooth decay over the past 50 years. Even for interventions with a strong science base, such as community water fluoridation, significant barriers to implementation of effective strategies discovered through research remain. Barriers include public misunderstanding of health issues and proposed solutions such as fluoridation; lack of engagement on the part of the media in communicating known effective strategies; and reluctance on the part of policymakers to champion approaches that concern but may not be advocated by their constituencies. The increasing burden of chronic disease places public policymakers into non-traditional roles, such as advocating behavior change as a preventive measure. Science is a critical tool to help legislators and policymakers "connect the dots" between public policies. For example, the elimination or degrading of physical education programs in schools is an important factor in addressing the national epidemic of childhood overweight and obesity in addition to the increase in rates of Type II diabetes among children. This article provides an overview of the past, present, and future associated with translating science into public health policy and law, including a review of tools and strategies to address existing and expanding public health challenges. The article also provides and discusses examples of translating and implementing science-based solutions to address public health problems effectively.

Commentary: 

This article discusses challenges of public health disease preventing initiatives with a strong science base such as Water fluoridation and the barriers in implementing the preventive measures. “Barriers include public misunderstanding of health issues and proposed solutions. . . lack of engagement on the part of the media in communicating know effective strategies; and reluctance on the part of policymakers to champion approaches that might concern but may not be advocated by their constituencies.” Id. at 22.

Municipal Authority: Police Power Controls – Fluoridation

Authors: 
Bourlon EG
Article Title: 
Municipal Authority: Police Power Controls – Fluoridation
Year: 
2003
Volume: 
32
Pages: 
661-663
Commentary: 

This is a discussion of Quiles v. City of Boynton Beach, 802 So.2d 397 (Fla.Dist.App. 4th 2001). The Boynton Beach City Commission voted to fluoridate the public water supplies. Quiles brought a claim for injunctive relief to stop the fluoridation based on a compulsory medication claim.

Fluoridation Litigation, Then and Now

Authors: 
Giedwoyn A
Article Title: 
Fluoridation Litigation, Then and Now
Year: 
2005
Volume: 
Aug./Sep
Commentary: 

The article begins by discussing mandatory water fluoridation in Oregon and the fluoride contamination from aluminum plants. The article has slanted bias against fluoridation and quotes comments only relating to unsound science. The author does not cite to any credible sources and warns that if Oregon were to move toward fluoridating through legislation, that there would be numerous law suits to follow.

Court Report State Court California

Authors: 
Talbot TM
Article Title: 
Court Report State Court California
Year: 
2005
Volume: 
Fall
Commentary: 

Discussed how law can be used to promote public health including the Coshow 132 Cal. App. 4th 687 (2005) appellate court holding

The law and the public’s health: a study of infectious disease law in the United States *

Authors: 
Gostin LO, Burris S, Lazzarini Z
Article Title: 
The law and the public’s health: a study of infectious disease law in the United States *
Year: 
1999
Volume: 
99
Number: 
1
Pages: 
59-128
Abstract: 

Law plays crucial roles in the field of public health, from defining the power and jurisdiction of health agencies, to influencing the social norms that shape individual behavior. Despite its importance, public health law has been neglected. Over a decade ago, the Institute of Medicine issued a report lamenting the state of public health administration, generally, and calling, in particular, for a revision of public health statutes. The Article examines the current state of public health law. To help create the conditions in which people can be healthy, public health law must reflect an understanding of how public health agencies work to promote health, as well as the political and social contexts in which these agencies operate. The authors first discuss three prevailing ways in which the determinants of health are conceptualized, and the political and social problems each model tends to create for public health efforts. The analysis then turns to the core functions of public health, emphasizing how law furthers public health work. The Article reports the results of a fifty-state survey of communicable disease control law, revealing that few states have systematically reformed their laws to reflect contemporary medical and legal developments. The Article concludes with specific guidelines for law reform.

Fluoridation Referendum in La Crosse, Wisconsin: Contributing Factors to Success

Authors: 
Jones RB, Mormann DN, Durtshce TB
Article Title: 
Fluoridation Referendum in La Crosse, Wisconsin: Contributing Factors to Success
Year: 
1989
Volume: 
79
Number: 
10
Pages: 
1405-8
Abstract: 

Residents of La Crosse, Wisconsin approved a public referendum in favor of water fluoridation on April 5, 1988. The vote, 57 percent supportive, culminated a two-year community effort. Three public referenda had been defeated in the past. Contributing to the success of this recent campaign were: broad-based community support led by a 34-member Citizens for Better Dental Health in La Crosse Committee; American Dental Association/Wisconsin Division of Health/US Public Health Service consultation and support; knowledgeable and supportive press coverage; the timing of the ballot to coincide with the Wisconsin Presidential Primary; and local chiropractic support to offset chiropractic anti-fluoridation leadership. La Crosse, population 50,000, was the largest fluoride-deficient community in a nine-state upper Midwest area.

Commentary: 

Factors for Success: Broad-based Community Support; Scientific Press Coverage; ADA and Governmental Agency Support; Timing and Language of Ballot.

Newburgh-Kingston Caries Fluorine Study: Final Report

Authors: 
Hilleboe et al.
Article Title: 
Newburgh-Kingston Caries Fluorine Study: Final Report
Year: 
1956
Volume: 
52
Number: 
3
Pages: 
290

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