Facilitating knowledge transfer: Decision support tools in environment and health

Hai-Ying Liu, Alena Bartonova, Panagiotis Neofytou, Aileen Yang, Michael J. Kobernus, Emanuele Negrenti, Christos Housiadas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

7 Citations (Scopus)


The HENVINET Health and Environment Network aimed to enhance the use of scientific knowledge in environmental health for policy making. One of the goals was to identify and evaluate Decision Support Tools (DST) in current use. Special attention was paid to four priority health issues: asthma and allergies, cancer, neurodevelopment disorders, and endocrine disruptors. We identified a variety of tools that are used for decision making at various levels and by various stakeholders. We developed a common framework for information acquisition about DSTs, translated this to a database structure and collected the information in an online Metadata Base (MDB). The primary product is an open access web-based MDB currently filled with 67 DSTs, accessible through the HENVINET networking portal http://www.henvinet.eu and http://henvinet.nilu.no. Quality assurance and control of the entries and evaluation of requirements to use the DSTs were also a focus of the work. The HENVINET DST MDB is an open product that enables the public to get basic information about the DSTs, and to search the DSTs using pre-designed attributes or free text. Registered users are able to 1) review and comment on existing DSTs; 2) evaluate each DSTs functionalities, and 3) add new DSTs, or change the entry for their own DSTs. Assessment of the available 67 DSTs showed: 1) more than 25% of the DSTs address only one pollution source; 2) 25% of the DSTs address only one environmental stressor; 3) almost 50% of the DSTs are only applied to one disease; 4) 41% of the DSTs can only be applied to one decision making area; 5) 60% of the DSTs results are used only by national authority and/or municipality/urban level administration; 6) almost half of the DSTs are used only by environmental professionals and researchers. This indicates that there is a need to develop DSTs covering an increasing number of pollution sources, environmental stressors and health end points, and considering links to other Driving forces-Pressures-State-Exposure-Effects-Actions (DPSEEA) elements. Of interest to both researchers and decision makers should be the standardization of the way DSTs are described for easier access to the knowledge, and the identification of coverage gaps. © 2012 Liu et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberS17
Pages (from-to)-
JournalEnvironmental Health: A Global Access Science Source
Issue numberSUPPL.1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Medicine(all)

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