Measuring the effectiveness of public health interventions

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If you’re examining the impact of air pollution control efforts in Denver, how do you statistically account for the fact that air pollution travels east—and that pollution reduction in the western United States could affect air quality in New England?

Likewise, if you’re measuring the effectiveness of a particular HIV-prevention strategy in a village in Botswana, how do you account for the fact that people in one village may have relationships with people in other villages?

These are two of the thorny issues discussed at an afternoon symposium on February 6, 2013 at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) titled “Quantitative Methods of Implementation Science & Translational Research.” A dozen researchers from HSPH and other institutions spoke at the symposium, which was sponsored by the departments of epidemiology, biostatistics, and global health and population at HSPH.

Implementation science and translational research aim to use research findings to create real-world interventions—and to figure out how best to measure the success of those efforts, HSPH Dean Julio Frenk explained in introductory remarks.

Speakers at the symposium focused on three case studies.