Role of Biostatistics
Biostatistics plays an important role in the informing and guiding of public health policy and practices. The reason for this is simple: quantitative data goes a long way in indicating a clear and precise picture of the extent to which a phenomenon is affecting or impacting a population. Biostatistics can provide information and that very extent and underscore the importance of implementing a policy, of changing a policy’s course/direction, of developing a new approach to dealing with public health, and/or of promoting new practices. Biostatistics provide a gathering of and interpretation of data that can then be used by policy makers as support for initiatives that would otherwise stall for lack of proof or evidence regarding why and how they will be effective at addressing a specific problem (Bertolote, Flieschmann, 2002).
The issue of translational research and whether or not it is being effectively used to create credible evidence is also of some concern. Translational research is meant to apply findings to policies that support health and programs for wellness. It essentially looks at translating the conclusions of a study into practice. However, if studies are being backed, supported, funded and guided by businesses and corporations that are looking for a single outcome that they can then use to support initiatives that they desire to implement, the credibility of the field and of the process is called into question. Translational research is not a bad process in and of itself — it is a natural and expected outcome in a pragmatic or utilitarian society that pursues common good objectives based on scientific finding.
However, one problem with translational research is that it may be too united to the industries which end up controlling the research field instead of allowing research to guide the industry. Business becomes the steering committee and results are expected to achieve the aims of the business; instead of using authentic science and research to measure or gauge new possibilities or to uncover dissenting opinions based on fact and experiment, studies may be used merely to reinforce the desires and outcomes of an industry that stands to profit from specific findings which it then can exploit for the sake of monetary gain.
This crudely devalues the merit of translational research, but it should not discredit it on the whole. Studies of merit are still performed all around the world and they can be used to help policy makers design and implement the most effective health care strategies in human history (Analyzing Research Questions about Survival, n.d.). The key to this process is to ensure that goals and objectives are oriented towards a people-first platform rather than a profits-first platform. The goal of industry should be aligned with the goal of the scientific community rather than the other way around. Credibility will not be lacking so long as the scientific community maintains its autonomy and separation from the industry aspect of the policy process.
Translational research, therefore, is helpful in that it exposes policy makers to evidence that can support new aims and directives — but it should be clear that the evidence is non-biased and objective from start to finish. Industry will always be a part of the process but the objectives should be stated plainly in the open — why a particular company is supporting a specific type of research — who is involved, what their records are. Decisions are being made in the world that are based more on pr campaigns than on objective data and credible evidence. This is a problem of ethics at root and must be addressed there ultimately.
Analyzing Research Questions about Survival. (n.d.).
Bertolote, J., Flieschmann, A. (2002). A global perspective in the epidemiology of suicide. Suicidologi, 7(2): 6-8.
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