Greater Collaboration Across the Disciplines

Challenges and Opportunities

Published in: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, v. 954, Dec. 2001, p. 311-321

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2000

by Maxine Weinstein, Albert I. Hermalin, Michael A. Stoto, V. Jeffrey Evans, Douglas Ewbank, John Haaga, Michel Ibrahim, Jennifer Madans

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In recent years, the once separate disciplines of epidemiology and demography have converged in many ways, fueled by the emerging field of population health that bridges multiple disciplines across basic, social, and medical sciences. The process of population aging, in particular, is a key factor that draws demographers and epidemiologists together as they address the health and mortality implications of policy options for health care, social and environmental issues, and generally informing the national and global policy debate. Increasing globalization and the emergence of AIDS also challenge researchers from both fields to incorporate understanding of the processes and effects of population dynamics on the one hand, and new theories to explain population change on the other. Despite the increasing convergence of epidemiology and demography, their separate histories, cultures, languages, organizations, and missions have acted as impediments to dialogue among practitioners. These issues are addressed by the papers in this volume, drawn from the conference on Epidemiology and Demography: Frontiers in Population Health and Aging held at Georgetown University February 8-10, 2001. The conference had three broad goals: first, to review the basic structure of epidemiology and demography to provide a backdrop to more-effective dialogue; second, to present research on specific areas of inquiry that have been addressed by both disciplines; and third, to discuss explicit ways of improving communication and collaboration across the disciplines.

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