Dr. Fineberg's research has focused on several areas of health policy, including the process of policy development and implementation, assessment of medical technology, and dissemination of medical innovations. He has examined, among other subjects, the controversial federal immunization program against swine flu, the adverse effects of pertussis and rubella vaccines, the cost-effectiveness of cardiac care, and the reform of medical education.
Many of Dr. Fineberg's research interests relate to the processes of decision making in medical care, public health practice, and health policy. He has recently been involved in a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of BCG, a vaccine to prevent tuberculosis. With colleagues, he is pursuing an analysis of policy options in dealing with the HIV epidemic and tuberculosis prevention and control. He has had special interest in the evaluation of diagnostic and screening tests, ranging from use of equipment (such as CT and MRI) to serologic tests for a variety of conditions.
Dr. Fineberg has contributed to understanding of the ethical and social implications of new medical technologies. Rapid advances in technical capacities often outpace individual and collective capacity for judgment about the use of technology. New advances in genetics, for example, raise questions about the integrity and identity of persons and introduce opportunities for wrongful discrimination and other adverse consequences. Societies need more appropriate mechanisms to cope with such ethical dilemmas.
With colleagues, Dr. Fineberg recently completed a review paper on changing public health training needs and has written a book on medical education reform in North America. The purpose of this text is to provide understanding and perspective on reform efforts by placing them in their historical context, revealing the concepts and assumptions underlying change, assessing forces within and outside of medicine that are driving reform, and judging the pace and consequences of the reform movement. These projects yield a series of insights and conclusions that can be used by educators and policy makers as they embark on educational innovation.
Dr. Fineberg was dean of the faculty of public health from 1984 through 1997.