of interest. For example, participation and selection processes for committees that generate reports such as the Guide to Community Preventive Services (http://www.thecommunityguide.org/) or Common Community Measures for Obesity Prevention (http://www.activelivingresearch.org/node/11698) are highly rigorous and systematic. Expert knowledge is particularly helpful in answering “What” or “How” questions, although consensus reports usually also include a rationale for why action is needed. Examples of this type of evidence include national committee reports based on deliberative processes; guidelines from national associations, health foundations, and committed practitioners or health professional organizations; and other expert statements. Table 5-10 provides examples of this type of evidence and how it might be used. Also see Chapter 7 for further discussion of the use of expert opinion and experience.


Locating evidence from the expanded perspective proposed by the committee requires access to a broad base of resources that extends beyond research journals. Databases used by researchers and decision makers and their intermediaries typically incorporate

TABLE 5-10 Types of Expert Knowledge and Examples of Their Uses

Type of Evidence

Questions That Can Be Addressed

Specific Applications

National Committee Reports Based on a Deliberative Process

In view of present and potential human and monetary costs of treating current levels of obesity or obesity-related diseases, what types of actions are recommended within and outside of the health care system? (“What” question)

Reasoned and formal analysis by a committee of established experts, such as a report by a committee convened by the public or private sector with established bias and conflict-of-interest procedures

Guidelines from National Associations, Health Foundations, and Committed Practitioner or Health Professional Organizations

Given the availability of effective measures to treat high blood pressure, what steps are needed to improve levels of blood pressure control in the population at large? (“What” question)

Public statements of consensus by a committee of established professionals and practitioners

Other Expert Statements

How does this intervention fit with community politics or national policy priorities? On what basis should it be given high priority? (“How” questions)

The considered opinion of experts in a particular field or practitioners, leaders, stakeholders, and policy makers able to make informed judgments on implementation issues and having local or governmental expertise (e.g., doctors, lawyers, nutritionists, scientists, or academics able to interpret the scientific literature or specialized forms of data, such as legal evidence)

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement