Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Awards New Grants for Public Health Services and Systems Research

Four investigator-initiated grants aimed at strengthening our public health system.

    • February 1, 2009

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced four new grants today that will help build evidence on how best to improve the quality and performance of the United States public health system. These projects represent the Foundation's latest investment in public health services and systems research, the developing field of research that focuses on the organization, staffing, financing and management of public health. RWJF is committed to supporting this research to develop better ways of organizing, financing and delivering public health services to improve community health and help people lead healthier lives.

“These grants will advance our knowledge of how different models of public health service delivery influence health outcomes,” said Debra Perez, RWJF senior program officer. “The lessons from these projects ultimately identify strategies to keep people healthier and ensure that they receive critical public health services.”

Funds from these grants will be used to study some of the most complex and important issues facing the public health field. The four investigators and their funded projects include:

  • Mary Davis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will explore how accreditation has influenced North Carolina’s local health departments (LHDs) and whether it has improved the delivery of services and health outcomes. By examining whether accredited LHDs in the state are meeting health indicators better than their non-accredited counterparts, Davis and her team will be able to better understand the influence of accreditation on service delivery. This project will ultimately help inform national public health accreditation efforts.
  • Paul Erwin from the University of Tennessee will examine how changes in state-level health systems—including health agencies, health departments and hospitals—have affected health outcomes in states over the past 15 years. This project will help build the evidence on the effect of quality improvement efforts in state health departments on health outcomes.
  • Tamara Dubowitz from the RAND Corporation will assess how local health departments in Florida and California can use geographic information systems (GIS) to help them more closely align the services they provide with the health needs of the communities they serve. This project aims to help shape the way that policy-makers make decisions about allocation of resources for health department services and programs.
  • Peter Jacobson of the University of Michigan will identify and explore current innovations in public health service delivery. For example, how might public health practitioners think entrepreneurially about generating new sources of revenue to fund the programs and services they provide in their communities? This project will inform policy-makers and other stakeholders about some of the innovative strategies being used across the country to improve public health service delivery.

These four projects represent awards from the fourth of a four-year funding program totaling more than $3 million by RWJF to build the field of public health services and systems research through investigator-initiated research grants. RWJF continues to fund other projects in Public Health Services and Systems Research to answer some of the most important and challenging questions about how best to structure, finance and strengthen our public health system.

These grants are administered through the Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization (HCFO) initiative, an RWJF program managed by AcademyHealth. HCFO strives to bridge the health policy and health services research communities by reaching two primary objectives: to provide public and private decision-makers with usable and timely information on health care policy, financing, and market developments; and to bring together the policy and research communities through significant convening, issues identification, research translation, and communication activities. Through the special topic solicitation in Public Health Services and Systems Research, HCFO supports investigator-initiated research examining the organization, financing, and delivery of public health services and the impact of these activities on population health.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change.

For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.