Article Text

PDF

Highlighting the importance of “popular epidemiology”
  1. Gareth Morgan
  1. Correspondence to:
 Mr G Morgan
 41 Ffordd Beck, Gowerton, Swansea SA4 3GE, Wales; morganfforrdbeck.fsnet.co.uk

Statistics from Altmetric.com

Common sense dictates that communities that feel most understood in terms of daily experience will also be the ones most receptive to a health improvement policy.

In Wales, the community councils represent the lowest tier of local government. From personal service experience in one of the councils it seems that day to day, people are concerned with matters such as dog fouling, small scale vandalism, litter, and car parking facilities. These community concerns have an impact upon health and wellbeing in a variety of ways and might be appropriately termed “popular epidemiology”.

Anecdotally, it seems that family doctors working in the Welsh mining communities tended to be very aware of the importance of “popular epidemiology”. This awareness may have been related to several factors including high social capital and general openness between people. It therefore seems that “popular epidemiology” has less prominence now than it had historically and this is probably to the detriment of public health practice.

Does the concept of “popular epidemiology” fit into a theoretical scientific paradigm? Perhaps not as it is dynamic and highly dependent on virtually every factor imaginable. While scientific paradigms tend to focus on specific problems depending on the method used, “popular epidemiology” integrates multiple factors through life experience. Therefore, it relates strongly to perceptions, values, and belief systems and these can be variable.

So while “popular epidemiology” may seem to be a nebulous concept, it does have a potential to support public health practice. Indeed, common sense dictates that communities that feel most understood in terms of daily experience will also be the ones most receptive to a health improvement policy.

Over the past 40 years, the Archie Cochrane legacy has done much to further the cause of the evidence based movement and the benefits of the legacy have been enormous. Yet there has been no emphasis on “popular epidemiology”. This paper highlights the importance of “popular epidemiology” so that it may be considered with the mainstream public health agenda.

Common sense dictates that communities that feel most understood in terms of daily experience will also be the ones most receptive to a health improvement policy.

View Abstract

Footnotes

  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.

  • The author is a Community Councillor, Gowerton, Wales

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles

  • In this issue
    Carlos Alvarez-Dardet John R Ashton