• How could the response be improved in the future? Based on the experience what would be the lessons for the next time?

As noted above, the research literature is limited in the area of public health emergency response, and much of what is known about the influence of preparedness on responses to recent outbreaks is based on subjective factors. Any proxy event, such as reoccurrences of West Nile virus, foodborne disease outbreaks, or other public health events of note, should be seen as an opportunity to measure progress toward preparedness goals and competent performance as another milestone in a continuing process. As CDC’s Evidence-Based Performance Goals for Public Health Disaster Preparedness, currently under development, are disseminated and implemented, it is important that CDC and its state and local partners take steps to link these with a system for capturing lessons learned from the response to proxy events.

The committee has described some of the knowledge available from the practice of disaster response and from disaster research and the need to strengthen public health preparedness research. The committee recommends that CDC should collaborate with all of its partners to strengthen preparedness by applying research findings and experience in public health emergency response, bioterrorism preparedness, and disaster management. In order to strengthen the evidence base for public health preparedness, CDC should:

  • Strengthen the link between public health research and practice.

  • Participate in and promote interdisciplinary research about preparedness.

  • Support a system to assure the ongoing collection, synthesis, and sharing of lessons learned and best practices from public health preparedness exercises and public health response to proxy events.

  • In coordination with the appropriate federal-level partners, such as AHRQ, evaluate the effectiveness, design, and opportunity costs of preparedness strategies, such as exercises.


Role of Modeling in Policy Decisions

For public health preparedness, models can be useful tools to assist in decision-making, focusing preparedness efforts, and analyzing different response options. Though there sometimes can be a tendency to want to use models to predict outcomes, models have limitations and should not be

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