Public Health Practice-Based Research Networks Program

The Foundation's initiative, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Practice-Based Research Network in Public Health (PBRN), was designed to develop a practice-based research network for public health to help stakeholders understand how public health systems research can be used to improve public health performance and impact.The evidence base on how best to organize, finance, and deliver public health services across U.S. communities remains thin, leaving policy makers and administrators with limited empirical guidance for establishing public health programs, laws, and budgets. The purpose of the Foundation's PBRN program is to expand the volume and quality of evidence on effective public health practice through networks of practitioners and researchers that collaborate to conduct studies in real-world practice settings. A Public Health PBRN brings multiple public health agencies together with research partners to design, implement, translate, and disseminate studies that are both scientifically rigorous and highly relevant to practice and policy decisions. Currently, 12 Primary PBRNs receive core Foundation funding and support through the program, and an additional 13 Affiliate PBRNs participate in program activities without core Foundation funding. The PBRNs supported through this program focus their studies on public health services and systems research, a field of inquiry that identifies how best to organize, finance, and deliver public health strategies and to elucidate the comparative health and economic effects of these strategies. As of August 2011, more than 40 funded PHSSR studies have been initiated or completed through these research networks. To further expand and enhance the work of public health PBRNs, 7 key activities will be done including: (1) maintaining the operations of the Public Health PBRN National Coordinating Center that provides technical assistance, communication, dissemination, and translation support to primary PBRN networks, affiliate networks, and other stakeholders engaged in conducting practice-based research via PBRNs; (2) developing new research partners and sources of support for PBRNs at federal, state, and nongovernmental levels that will assure the long-term sustainability and growth of PBRNs nationally, with a particular focus on partnerships with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-supported Prevention Research Centers, National Institutes of Health-supported Clinical and Translational Science Award recipients, and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality-supported primary care PBRNs; (3) coordinating the implementation and translation of PBRN research projects currently underway through the multi-year Research Implementation awards granted to 10 public Health PBRNs in 2010-11; (4) coordinating the development and implementation of research projects supported through the PBRN Research Acceleration and Expansion series of administrative supplements to be awarded competitively to eight public health PBRNs to expand research capacity and methodological advances within their networks; (5) coordinating the selection, development and implementation of the Multi-network Practices and Outcomes Variation Study that will support a comparative study of the causes and consequences of public health practice variation through the engagement of multiple PBRNs; (6) planning and developing a new open-access vehicle for rapid dissemination of early findings from PBRN research and related studies in public health systems and services; and (7) developing and coordinating research dissemination opportunities for PBRN research, including a special theme issue devoted to PBRN research in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and development of scientific panel presentations at national scientific and professional meetings. Collectively, these activities will accelerate the production and translation of practice-relevant research that directly informs policy and administrative decision making during an era of significant public health and health system reform.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $564,464.00

Awarded on: 10/11/2011

Time frame: 11/1/2011 - 10/31/2012

Grant Number: 69468


University of Kentucky Research Foundation

109 Kinkead Hall
500 South Limestone Street
Lexington, 40526-0001


Glen P. Mays
Project Director