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Am J Public Health. 2015 Apr;105(4):665-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302433. Epub 2015 Feb 25.

Old myths, new myths: challenging myths in public health.

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Sarah M. Viehbeck holds an adjunct appointment with the School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario. Mark Petticrew and Steven Cummins are with the Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, England.


Myths are widely held beliefs and are frequently perpetuated through telling and retelling. We examined 10 myths in public health research and practice. Where possible, we traced their origins, interrogated their current framing in relation to the evidence, and offered possible alternative ways of thinking about them. These myths focus on the nature of public health and public health interventions, and the nature of evidence in public health. Although myths may have some value, they should not be privileged in an evidence-informed public health context.

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