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Penn Vet Researchers Contribute Expertise to Checklist for ‘One Health’ Studies

By Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194 Published: Aug 4, 2017

One Health studies focus on the intersection of the health of humans, animals and the environment.A growing body of scientific research is focused on One Health, the integration of knowledge concerning humans, animals and the environment. Yet there is no clear, unified definition of what a One Health study is or how such a study should be conducted.

A new tool for the design and authorship of One Health studies is now available to researchers. Published in the journal One Health by a team from the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Washington and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Checklist for One Health Epidemiology Reporting of Evidence, or COHERE, is a set of 19 standards that addresses how to conduct studies that integrate data from the three domains.

Dr. Shelley Rankin“We all understand that One Health studies occur at the intersection between human, animal and environmental health,” said Shelley Rankin, an author of the report and an associate professor of microbiology in Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine. “But we were seeing an increase in studies defined as One Health that were perhaps only touching on two of those domains. One of the things that we were very rigid on during the development of COHERE was that, as a researcher, you’d better be able to tick all three of those boxes for your study to be defined as One Health.”

The twin aims of COHERE are, first, to improve the quality of reporting of observational or interventional epidemiology studies that integrate data from humans, animals and/or vectors and their environments and, second, to promote the concept that One Health studies should collect and integrate data from these three domains. The COHERE checklist was designed in the style of the widely used research tool STROBE, for Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology.

Dr. Stephen ColeThe authorship team of COHERE is comprised of both well-established and rising One Health researchers from multiple disciplines, including Rankin and Penn Vet postdoctoral fellow Stephen D. Cole. In addition to Rankin and Cole, authors of COHERE included Johns Hopkins University’s Meghan F. Davis, the lead author; Janna M. Schurer and Peter Rabinowitz of the University of Washington; and Lisa Conti of the

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. An international group of One Health experts were also consulted for external review prior to manuscript submission. The authors intend that this be a living document which is revised as needed, and they encourage users of the tool to provide feedback via the corresponding author.

Cole believes that the multidisciplinary approach the team took to create COHERE “truly represents an overarching goal of One Health. Designing a study with COHERE in mind may be the impetus to bring together experts from many fields so we can improve the health of animals, humans and the environment.”

About Penn Vet

The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is a global leader in veterinary education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the first veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling nearly 35,000 patient visits a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles nearly 4,900 patient visits a year, while the Field Service treats more than 38,000 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.

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John Donges
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