Center Helps Develop Guidelines for One Health Epidemiological Studies

The University of Washington Center for One Health Research has played a major role in the development of a new set of guidelines for research in One Health, a growing field that looks at linkages between the health of people, animals, and the changing ecosystems we share.

Researchers say that as the literature has expanded, they’ve noted a lack of consensus on criteria for a well-designed study in this interdisciplinary field. To address gaps and guide future scholarship, they’ve created a “Checklist for One Health Epidemiological Reporting of Evidence (COHERE),” published in the journal One Health.

The checklist will help researchers design and author One Health studies, according to Peter Rabinowitz, director of the Center for One Health Research, based in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences in the UW School of Public Health.

“The COHERE guidelines represent a major attempt to encourage the highest standards and rigor of epidemiological studies of emerging diseases and other health problems at the human-animal-ecosystem interface,” said Rabinowitz, professor of environmental and occupational health sciences, family medicine and global health.

“In particular, they encourage the inclusion of environmental health considerations and family considerations into studies looking at human and animal health. This is crucial given the major environmental threats to our planet, and the fact that strategies for healthy sustainability need to consider the health of all species as well as the ecological support systems upon which life depends."

The Checklist for One Health Epidemiological Reporting of Evidence was designed in the style of the widely used research tool STROBE (STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology). The authorship team of COHERE includes both well-established and rising One Health researchers from multiple disciplines. The lead author was Meghan Davis, assistant professor of environmental health and engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Inclusion of many experts in the process has resulted in a robust and unique tool that many believe has been greatly needed, Rabinowitz said. The authors intend the checklist to be a living document that can be revised as needed, and they encourage users of the tool to provide feedback.