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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Public Health Practice

Federal, state and local public health agencies routinely collect and analyze health information and data to perform a number of activities including public health surveillance, outbreak and exposure investigations, community health assessments, and population-based clinical care. Public health emergency response activities are often characterized as public health practice (non-research) because these activities are intended to address an immediate health or medical issue benefiting those involved in the investigation.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and partners recognize Science Preparedness as the critical link between public health practice and scientific research. Science Preparedness is intended to create the mechanisms to enable information and data collected for public health practice (e.g. public health surveillance) to be used for research purposes (e.g., health services research). The benefits from investigations or research accrue to persons beyond the population under investigation.

In advance of, during and after disasters or public health emergencies, public health practice should address clearly articulated, important questions or hypotheses, and be appropriately designed to maximize the likelihood of producing a meaningful research study.  Through science preparedness, the results of public health practice can be leveraged for scientific research to inform complex and often long-term public health and medical preparedness, response and recovery efforts

Public health practice areas important to science preparedness include:

  • Public health preparedness
  • Epidemiology
  • Environmental health
  • Occupational health and safety

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Public Health Practice

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  • This page last reviewed: May 13, 2015