Public Health Services and Systems Research

Public Health Systems Research (PHSR) is gaining momentum as a field focused on the organization, financing, delivery and impact of public health services. PHSR is distinct, but related, to the established field of health services research (HSR), which has traditionally focused on delivery of medical services, and to public health research, which has focused on finding and tracing specific diseases within the population.

In this editorial and commentary, the authors propose renaming PHSR as public health services and systems research (PHSSR) to reflect its relation to HSR and to engage researchers who have worked in other areas of public health and medical services. Among many reasons, the researchers believe that the PHSSR can:

  • provide a place for the general (not disease-specific) lessons that are learned from services research and systems-level research to be shared and disseminated; and
  • provide the evidence for sound decision-making around how to improve the public health infrastructure.

As they conclude, the authors stress the potential role the field can play in successfully modernizing our public health infrastructure, thereby improving the nation's health.