On October 3, 2018, the Roundtable on Population Health Improvement of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) and the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science (IAPHS) convened a joint symposium to consider the current state of population health science in the United States. The symposium was held in Washington, DC, at the National Academy of Sciences building in coordination with the IAPHS annual meeting. Sanne Magnan, senior fellow at HealthPartners Institute, said that the goal of the symposium was to reflect on trends in population health, the state of the science, and effective policy. The intent was not to consider specific programs or activities, she explained, but rather to reflect in broad terms on challenges and future direction(s) for the field.
1 This joint symposium was organized by an independent planning committee whose role was limited to identification of topics and speakers. This proceedings was prepared by the rapporteur as a factual summary of the presentations and discussions that took place at the symposium. Statements, recommendations, and opinions expressed are those of individual presenters and participants and are not necessarily endorsed or verified by the National Academies, the roundtable, or IAPHS, and they should not be construed as reflecting any group consensus.
Since 2013, the Roundtable on Population Health Improvement has been convening workshops for members, stakeholders, and the public to discuss issues of importance to improving the nation’s health. The roundtable’s vision is of a strong, healthy, and productive society that cultivates human capital and equal opportunity. This vision rests on the recognition that outcomes such as improved life expectancy, quality of life, and health for all are shaped by interdependent social, economic, environmental, genetic, behavioral, and health care factors, and that achieving this vision will require robust national and community-based policies and dependable resources.
The agenda for the joint symposium was developed by an independent planning committee with assistance from roundtable and IAPHS staff. Planning committee members included Allison Aiello, Bob Hummer, David Kindig, Paula Lantz, Sanne Magnan, and Lourdes J. Rodríguez. (The planning committee’s Statement of Task is provided in Box 1-1.) As described by Bruce Link, distinguished professor of public policy and sociology at the University of California, Riverside, and president of IAPHS, the objectives of the symposium were the following:
- Highlight major trends and patterns in U.S. population health and challenges to current thinking, including socioeconomic, gender, racial, ethnic, and other social disparities;
- Explore how population health science could inform policy to improve outcomes and how policies can have unintended consequences if not grounded in research and evaluation; and
- Showcase perspectives on how to build common ground for development and implementation of effective policy based on science.
This joint symposium of the Roundtable on Population Health Improvement and IAPHS was the agenda item for the first part of the 2018 IAPHS annual meeting. The symposium opened with an overview of population health in the United States, including current trends in health and mortality, and racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities (Chapter 2). The discussion then turned to the complexities of policy implementation with attention to evidence generation and to surfacing and mitigating negative unintended consequences of policies for population health (Chapter 3). In the final panel of the symposium, speakers representing city-, state-, and federal-level agencies shared their perspectives on finding common ground to move population health forward (Chapter 4). The
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