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Health Risk Science -
Health Risk Policy Analysis

The results of risk assessment are used as a basis for health policy risk analysis (Glouberman and Hayes 1998; Spasoff 1999; Greenbaum et al. 2001; Pang et al. 2003; Tonn 2003).  Armed with the appropriate scientific evidence, a wide range of potential strategies may be considered.  Rational health policy has several characteristics, including an accurate assessment of health needs in the population and consideration of future changes in population structure and resulting needs.  Such policies must be explicitly stated in policy documents that are available for public scrutiny, support interventions that have been shown to be effective, respect the distinct roles of different levels of government and strike balance between curative, protective and preventive approaches to health.

Regardless of the advantages that may be realized by adopting the population health approach to risk assessment outlined in this paper, an ongoing challenge will be to identify fundamental principles that can be used to guide risk management decision-making.  Although the precautionary principle (Kriebel et al. 2001), which encourages cost-effective risk management action in the face of scientific uncertainty (particularly when the potential consequences are large), has attracted much attention in this regard, other decision-making principles such as those proposed by Jardine et al. (2003) are also of value.  The challenge is to identify both the principles that underlie sound risk management decisions, and the factors that suggest their application in specific risk contexts.

Reproduced from:  Krewski D, Hogan V, Turner MC, Zeman P, McDowell I, Edwards N, Losos J. 2007. An Integrated Framework for Risk Management and Population Health. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, in press.   


Glouberman S and Hayes M. 1998.  Population Health, Sustainable Development and Policy Futures: A Think Piece for Health Canada. Canadian Policy Research Networks, Ottawa

Spasoff RA. 1999. Epidemiologic Methods for Health Policy.  Oxford University Press, New York

Greenbaum DS, Bachman JD, Krewski D, et al. 2001. Particulate air pollution standards and morbidity and mortality: case study. Am J Epidemiol 154:78s-90s.

Pang T, Sadana R, Hanney S, et al. 2003. Knowledge for better health - a conceptual framework and foundation for health research systems. Bull World Health Organ81:815-20

Tonn B. 2003. An equity first, risk-based framework for managing global climate change. Glob Environ Change 13:295-306    

Kriebel D, Tickner J, Epstein P, et al. 2001. The precautionary principle in environmental
science. Environ Health Perspect 109: 871-6

Jardine CG, Hrudey SE, Shortreed J, et al. 2003. Review of risk management frameworks for environmental, human health and occupational health risks. J Toxicol Environ Health B: 6:569-718


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