A conduit between epidemiological research and regional health policy

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Abstract

Objective:

To transform data from a research setting into a format that could be used to support strategies encouraging healthy lifestyle choices and service planning within local government.

Methods:

Details of the health status and lifestyle behaviours of the Geelong, Victoria, population were generated independently by the Geelong Osteoporosis Study (GOS), a prospective population-based cohort study. Recent GOS follow-up phases provided evidence about patterns of unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, smoking and harmful alcohol use. These factors are well-recognised modifiable risk factors for chronic disease; the dataset was complemented with prevalence estimates for musculoskeletal disease, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma and cancer.

Results:

Data were provided to Healthy Together Geelong in aggregate form according to age, sex and suburb. A population statistics company used the data to project health outcomes by suburb for use by local council. This data exchange served as a conduit between epidemiological research and policy development.

Conclusion and implications:

Regional policy makers were informed by local evidence, rather than national or state health survey, thereby optimising potential intervention strategies.

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