Public Health Classics

Category archives for Public Health Classics

It’s probably my earliest public health memory — the image of Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and his grandfatherly beard on the television warning my elementary school self about the dangers of smoking. He was the first doctor I knew by name.

In 1975, Samuel Preston published a paper that changed the course of thought on the relationship between mortality and economic development.

Is an examination of social factors contributing to disease part of the physician’s job description?

In a classic 1987 Science article, psychologist Paul Slovic examined how people perceive risk — and contradicted the prevailing assumption that people will alter their perceptions of risk as they receive new information.

“Pneumocystis Pneumonia — Los Angeles,” in the June 5, 1981 edition of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, was an economical seven paragraph clinical report cataloging five observed cases, accompanied by an explanatory editorial note on the rarity of this fungal disease. It seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary from MMWR, but turned out to be medical literature’s first report of the disease we now know as AIDS.

A study and report by ERA Merewether in the 1940s alerted the medical community to the role of occupational asbestos exposure in lung disease.

In an address to the Royal Society of Medicine in 1965, Sir Austin Bradford Hill attempted to codify the criteria for determining disease causality. An occupational physician, Hill was primarily concerned with the relationships among sickness, injury, and the conditions of work.

Public Health Classics: Assessing air pollution and health in six U.S. cities, researchers’ findings changed the air we breathe

In the 1974, most of us thought that air pollution was something that just looked and smelled bad. But public health researchers had just launched a study to determine whether air pollution shortened people’s lives. Twenty years later they published their results. It forever changed the way we think about and address air pollutants.

Public Health Classics: Collecting children’s baby teeth to identify lead poisoning

The baby teeth of children collected by their teachers, allowed Dr. Herb Needleman to make the link between lead poisoning and lower IQ scores.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, acute respiratory infections were a major cause of mortality for young children in developing countries. A study by Frank Shann and colleagues led to protocols that have since become the basis of controlling and treating these infections in children.