Tapping the Potential

One of the stated goals of Healthy People 2010 was the eradication of health disparities. Since the goal was set, there has been limited change in disparities based on factors such as race/ethnicity, gender, income and geography.

This article details how public health agency accreditation and public health services and systems research (PHSSR) could contribute to the reduction of health disparities.

Key Findings:

  • In 2011, the Public Health Accreditation Board will initiate a voluntary national accreditation program that will establish criteria for quality and performance for public health agencies.
  • Accreditation could lead to even more efficient and effective delivery of services by public health agencies to populations impacted by health disparities by designating health disparities as a performance outcome.
  • PHSSR is an emerging science concentrating on the public health system and its structure, operation and outcomes. PHSSR aims to implement lessons learned from research into practice. As a result, PHSSR can contribute to understanding how the public health system is related to health disparities and how changes to the system may reduce health disparities.

Improving public health systems will require addressing health disparities directly and using nationwide accreditation and a diverse cadre of PHSSR researchers to contribute to and build upon an evidence base of best practices for public health.