Publication Date

May 2003

Document Type



Library and Information Science



Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) for clinical medicine involves using the best evidence to care for individual patients. Evidence-based public health (EBPH) involves using the best evidence to develop public health policies and intervention programs. There are various EBM resources available to help clinicians sort through the vast amount of medical literature to find the best evidence for their practice needs, yet few resources are available to assist public health practitioners find high quality information relevant to their practice needs.


This project is identifying and cataloging existing electronic evidence-based resources in public health and assessing possible models for effectively and efficiently delivering current, evidence-based practices identified in the journal literature to public health practitioners. This resource will assist federal, state and local health department personnel in identifying evidence-based practices. Links to existing resources are being organized for easy access and searching on a website.


To inform the processes of identifying resources we first developed a working definition of the field of public health. We examined public health associations, government health agencies, national health objectives, and other public health sources to identify the knowledge domains of public health (e.g. epidemiology, maternal and child health). We then sought to identify journals, databases, and other resources containing content relevant to these domains and subdomains. To guide the process of selecting journals we used sources from the CDC Information Center, the Healthy People 2010 Information Access Project, MLA’s Core Public Health Journals Project, and ISI’s Journal Citation Reports. The selected journals were matched with the identified public health knowledge domains and subdomains. We then systematically identified existing public health and clinical medical models for organizing, summarizing, synthesizing, and disseminating evidence-based knowledge in the public health and medical fields. These ranged from electronic journal search services to comprehensive knowledge bases that select, summarize and critique health literature in specific domains.


Results to date include a project website (; lists of public health journals and bibliographic databases; a chart of public health sources used to identify 17 knowledge domains, and 143 subdomains of public health; a table of public health journals matched with each knowledge domain and subdomain; and an annotated listing of medical and public health models of literature summarization, synthesis and dissemination.


We believe that our methodology for identifying domain-specific evidence-based resources was effective and efficient in accomplishing the project goal. Our methodology for identifying information resources related to a specific knowledge can be used to enhance collection development in a specific discipline. Many different sophisticated approaches are being used by government, non-profit and for-profit organizations in the United States to summarize, synthesize, organize and disseminate evidence-based health information, primarily to clinical medical practitioners. Study of the structure, content, and usability of these existing models may offer important lessons for developing new and improved models aimed at serving a similar purpose for public health practitioners. In the next year of the project we will be exploring through focus groups with public health practitioners the feasibility, usability and acceptability of several models for providing evidence-based information.


The Evidence-Based Practice for Public Health Project is funded through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Information Center and the Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine.

Presented at the 2003 Medical Library Association Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA.


evidence-based public health, public health practice, information resources, public health journals, bibliographic databases

Journal/Book/Conference Title

2003 Medical Library Association Annual Meeting



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