Evidence-based public health: a fundamental concept for public health practice

Annu Rev Public Health. 2009;30:175-201. doi: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.031308.100134.


Despite the many accomplishments of public health, a greater attention to evidence-based approaches is warranted. This article reviews the concepts of evidence-based public health (EBPH), on which formal discourse originated about a decade ago. Key components of EBPH include making decisions on the basis of the best available scientific evidence, using data and information systems systematically, applying program-planning frameworks, engaging the community in decision making, conducting sound evaluation, and disseminating what is learned. Three types of evidence have been presented on the causes of diseases and the magnitude of risk factors, the relative impact of specific interventions, and how and under which contextual conditions interventions were implemented. Analytic tools (e.g., systematic reviews, economic evaluation) can be useful in accelerating the uptake of EBPH. Challenges and opportunities (e.g., political issues, training needs) for disseminating EBPH are reviewed. The concepts of EBPH outlined in this article hold promise to better bridge evidence and practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Evidence-Based Practice* / methods
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Politics
  • Population Surveillance
  • Public Health Practice*