Scientific research provides the evidence base, the stimulus for, and the means of evaluating both public health practice and clinical care. However, some scientific trends raise questions that merit a close look in the context of population health. The development and use of technology is proceeding at great expense to the nation and without a clear picture of its contributions to improving health.
In the 21st century, the impact of current investigations into the human genome will unfold in a host of new approaches to screening and therapy. These developments have major implications for future information needs, not only in clinical areas but also in broader ones related to family, culture, education, ethics, and social policy.
Keeping up with the public health ramifications of scientific research will require more information in the following areas, among others:
- A population-based assessment of the outcomes of various high-tech interventions, to evaluate the outcomes of large investments in comparison with alternative uses of resources
- Information with which to evaluate whether demonstrated benefits (e.g., of genetic research) extend to all segments of the population