The slow process from public health research to law

We know that public health works and thinks long-term. We’ll typically see the population benefits of reducing health risks such as tobacco use, obesity and high alcohol intake in ten or twenty years’ time.  But we often forget that preceding public health research into the determinants of ill health and the possible public health solutions is also slow working.  Evidence-based public health solutions can be unpopular with voters, politicians or commercial companies (or all).  Hence these take time to get accepted by the various stakeholders and make their way into policies.

I was, therefore, glad to see that Scotland won the Supreme Court case today in favour of a minimum price for a unit of alcohol. As we know from the media, the court case took five years.  Before that the preparation and drafting of the legislation took years, and some of the original research took place long before that.  Together with colleagues at the Health Economic Research Unit at the University of Aberdeen, the University of York and Health Education Board for Scotland, we conducted a literature review on Effective & Cost-Effective Measures to Reduce Alcohol Misuse in Scotland as early as 2001 [1].  Some of the initial research was so long ago it was conducted for the Scottish Executive, before it was even renamed the Scottish Government.


Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen




Research started years ago! Ludbrook et al.(2002) Effective & Cost-Effective Measures to Reduce Alcohol Misuse in Scotland: Lit Review, HERU, Univ. of Aberdeen. [ISBN: 0755932803]