“Lay epidemiology” is a term used to describe the processes through which health risks are understood and interpreted by laypeople. It is seen as a barrier to public health when the public disbelieves or fails to act on public health messages. Two elements to lay epidemiology are proposed: (a) empirical beliefs about the nature of illness and (b) values about the place of health and risks to health in a good life. Both elements have to be dealt with by effective public health schemes or programmes, which would attempt to change the public’s empirical beliefs and values. This is of concern, particularly in a context in which the lay voice is increasingly respected. Empirically, the scientific voice of standard epidemiology should be deferred to by the lay voice, provided a clear distinction exists between the measurement of risk, which is empirical, and its weighting, which is based on values. Turning to engagement with values, health is viewed to be an important value and is discussed and reflected on by most people. Public health professionals are therefore entitled and advised to participate in that process. This view is defended against some potential criticisms.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
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.
Competing interests: None.
Read the full text or download the PDF:
Other content recommended for you
- What influences people’s responses to public health messages for managing risks and preventing infectious diseases? A rapid systematic review of the evidence and recommendations
- User requirements and understanding of public health networks in England
- Examining the use of ‘natural’ in breastfeeding promotion: ethical and practical concerns
- Science, ethics, and professional public health practice
- Medicine, the media and political interests
- What police officers want public health professionals to know
- Ethical issues in predictive genetic testing: a public health perspective
- Public Health England’s troubled trail
- Continuing the debate on the philosophy of modern public health: social quality as a point of reference
- ‘Only connect’: the case for public health humanities