After attending the second day of the Virginia Health Equity Conference, I have been convinced that public health is a function of much, much more than just medical treatment. Paula Braveman provided some figures in her keynote that indicate that the mortality and incidence rates of many infectious diseases drastically reduced before effective medical interventions were introduced. I had heard this before, but a picture is worth a 1000 words. I tracked down a few of the images online (see below). Public health initiatives such as housing, ventilation, improved sewage systems, and education improved health outcomes much more than medical interventions that were later introduced. This reflects the fact that there are many good proxies for public health that reflect infrastructure, networks, and transportation, all of which are things that we like to evaluate in operations research models.
It strikes me that any operations research models that reflect public health would fit in well with community-based OR initiative. Those who do research in this area might be interested in a new Springer volume. The call for papers is pasted below (I could not find a link). Note that I am not affiliated with this effort.
Proposals for manuscripts on the topic of Community-Based Operations Research are being solicited for an edited volume to be published in the Springer International Series in Operations Research and Management Science, as part of the Advancing the State-of-the-Art handbook series.
“Community-based operations research” (CBOR) is defined as the collection of analytical methods applied to problem domains in which interests of underrepresented, underserved, or vulnerable populations in localized jurisdictions, formal or informal, receive special emphasis, and for which solutions to problems of core concern for daily living must be identified and implemented so as to jointly optimize economic efficiency, social equity, and administrative burdens. This domain was first discussed in a chapter in Tutorials in Operations Research 2007 – OR Tools and Applications: Glimpses of Future Technologies (INFORMS 2007) by Johnson and Smilowitz and subsequently in an article that appeared in the February 2008 issue of OR/MS Today.
As community-oriented operations research, as defined here, is central to the mission of the Section on OR/MS Applied to Public Programs, Service and Needs, submissions from SPPSN members will be especially welcome.
Chapters in this volume can describe current results for a specific research problem, a literature review, or a discussion of the nature of CBOR within the operations research/management science discipline.
Proposals for submissions to this volume should be not more than one page in length, describe the nature of the submission, and clarify if the submission is likely to be based on current or on-going research, a new research project, or synthesize previous findings. Submissions will be peer-reviewed. The deadline for submission proposals is October 16, 2009. The deadline for chapter submissions is February 1, 2010; final drafts of chapter submissions will be sent to the publisher on August 1, 2010.
Manuscript proposals, as well as inquiries regarding further details, should be sent to: Michael P. Johnson, Ph.D, Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA 02125-3393