Honouring the value of people in public health: a different kind of p-value
David Bishai , Bull World Health Organ. 2015

When faced with a complex public health problem there is a natural urge to find solutions. We hire consultants, gather data, test hypotheses and examine P-values to identify risk factors: data-driven technological fixes get implemented every day. In the right situation, there is nothing wrong with solutionism – the belief that all difficulties have technical solutions. Solutionism works well for circumscribed problems involving a small number of motivated individuals, where every element of the prescribed solution can be implemented as planned. However, complex problems in public health usually have elements that defy planning, because health involves people, and people are unpredictable.

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