Applying a health economics framework to develop a method for determining return on investment for public health

The Foundation's Public Health Systems Research program was designed to help establish the field of public health systems research as a needed resource that will enable governmental health agencies to improve their performance. Under this project, the researchers will determine the return on investment (ROI) from public health activities within California and for the Alameda County Department of Public Health. They seek to answer the following research questions: (1) what is the average annual monetary valuation of general health status and to what extent does this valuation vary among racial/ethnic groups, (2) what is the average causal relationship between public health expenditures in California and general health status and to what extent does this relationship vary among racial/ethnic groups, (3) what is the ROI for California public health expenditures with respect to improving health status and to what extent does this vary among racial/ethnic groups, and (4) what is a simple method that county public health departments may use to apply the above information in order to determine ROI estimates for decision making regarding the implementation of programs that incorporate evidence-based practices to prevent various chronic conditions and promote various health behaviors? The project will use publicly available datasets and econometric methods that incorporate new developments in the subjective well being valuation method that avoid the biases of previous approaches to valuing health outcomes. This project is nationally relevant in that it will demonstrate the value of public health activities in the most populous state in the U.S. This project is relevant to local departments of public health in that it will enable them to make accurate judgments regarding which bundles of programs produce the most benefit in their local population and will automatically weight historically underserved groups more highly relative to other groups.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $193,810.00

Awarded on: 4/2/2010

Time frame: 5/1/2010 - 8/31/2012

Grant Number: 67617


University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, Nicholas C. Petris Center

2150 Shattuck Avenue, Suite 525
Berkeley, CA, 94704-1345


Timothy T. Brown
Project Director


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