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A decision process for determining whether to conduct responder health research following large disasters

John A. Decker, MS, Max Kiefer, MS, Dori B. Reissman, MD, MPH, Renée Funk DVM, MPH, John Halpin, MD, MPH, Bruce Bernard, MD, MPH, Richard L. Ehrenberg, MD, Christine R. Schuler, PhD, Elizabeth Whelan, PhD, Kyle Myers, MS, John Howard, MD


Disasters often set the stage for scientific inquiry within the field of occupational safety and health. This is especially true when the long-term consequences of exposures associated with a particular disaster are unclear. However, a responder research study can be costly and difficult to design, and researchers must consider whether the proposed study will produce useful, reliable results and is a prudent public health investment.
The decision process can be segregated into various components, including scientific rationale that should be formally recognized as critical to efficiently and effectively determine whether a research study is warranted. The scientific rationale includes certain controlling or “gatekeeper” factors that should be present to proceed with research.


disaster research, responder research, postdisaster research, surveillance, health monitoring

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