Towards ‘doing and thinking’: Surindar and Jill’s latest paper on evidence based EH

I was feeling quite deflated earlier this morning. My latest elective brain scan (a very long story – it’s still there, more a chronic plumbing problem!!!) recently scuppered my attendance at this Thursday’s CIEH workshop on bridging policy and practice with research (see blog below – though the rest of us will be there).

Further, I’ve just learned that my latest attempt to build a bridge with more established public health research colleagues has fallen at the first hurdle… then I received an email from Jill singing Surindar’s praises following publication of their new paper on the perceptions and experiences of EHPs about evidence based environmental health (EBEH).

This is available for free (hurrah) via:

http://sgo.sagepub.com/content/5/4/2158244015611711

I will ask Surindar and Jill to introduce it better soon, but from my first lunch time reading a number of issues spring to mind. First, I’m so relieved Surindar and Jill were able to publish this on Sage Open. Therefore all EHPs will be able to benefit, including those outside England where most of these arguments still apply. Further, by publishing in a non EH journal I hope that these arguments will reach a wider audience whose knowledge we could benefit from.

Second, the paper forms a solid foundation for a more informed debate about EBEH, not least by engaging with the complex and politically charged policy context in which it has emerged. Stuck in my PhD writing up cave I’m not the most policy-engaged EHP currently, but I know a few who are and I continue to be amazed by the apparent lack of EBEH debate amongst EHPs.

Third, Surindar’s PhD findings on the perceptions of EHPs and the practical challenges they face in moving towards a more EBEH provide such fertile ground for us EHRNetters, indeed in some ways they reinforce the need for our very existence. Indeed, the self-identification of EHPs in the paper as ‘doers’ – in contrast to their ‘thinking’ public health colleagues – suggests we still have a long way to go. When we started EHRNet in 2011 we speculated that it could take decades before EHPs were persuaded by EBEH, if they could be persuaded at all, though the challenges described by the pioneers of evidence based medicine continue to provide  comfort (see http://www.bmj.com/campaign/evidence-based-medicine).

We will therefore continue to publish and advocate for EBEH via workshops, meetings and our growing network of friends and colleagues. Further, I will escape the PhD cave soon and would love to develop and run some EBEH workshops…

Many thanks and best wishes,

Rob

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