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Convergence as public health innovation: a case for tobacco control

Authors Horn KA, Ali M, Curry LE, Tercyak KP, Niaura R

Received 9 August 2016

Accepted for publication 4 October 2016

Published 21 November 2016 Volume 2016:3 Pages 79—92


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Rubin Pillay

Kimberly A Horn,1 Maliha Ali,1 Laurel E Curry,1 Kenneth P Tercyak,2 Ray Niaura3

1Department of Prevention and Community Health, The Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University, 2Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, 3Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies, Truth Initiative, Washington, DC, USA

Abstract: The tobacco epidemic remains a significant global public health crisis, killing six million people a year. In the US, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death, despite decades of antismoking efforts. Evidence-based tobacco control policies and programs are not consistently or optimally implemented across states and regions, thereby weakening their effectiveness. Moreover, wide disparities persist in tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases among the most socioeconomically vulnerable groups in society. Innovative tobacco control approaches are sorely needed to address these gaps in tobacco control by consolidating and harmonizing siloed and fragmented tobacco control practices. The present review gleans important insights on the nature and potential of this convergence and its applications in public health innovations. The evidence provides important guidance for formulating and implementing strategies for convergence in innovation. The DC Metro Tobacco Research and Instruction Consortium (MeTRIC) provides a case example – describing real-world insights from the authors’ experience in implementing convergent innovation. With its two definitive principles in which, 1) public health and development go hand in hand, and 2) a focus on improving the status of the underserved, the concept of convergence leans on innovation to address specific needs of the community. In the multidisciplinary realm of tobacco control, the role of convergent innovation in addressing gaps resistant to current efforts is imperative and required.

Keywords: convergence approach, public health innovation, tobacco control, multisector collaboration

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