Public Health Services and Systems Research

In this afterword of a special supplement of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the authors summarize some of the insights gleaned from efforts to establish a research agenda in public health services and systems research (PHSSR).

They express surprise at the paucity of information presented on quality improvement initiatives and present two possible explanations and solutions:

  1. A divide exists between academia and local health practitioners. Health departments do not see themselves in the academic business and academics do not recognize health departments as potential research partners. To help collaboration, the authors suggest establishing formal working relationships such as practice-based research networks in public health.
  2. Practitioners and policy-makers need more awareness of the importance of the research agenda to guide decisions about the most effective and efficient means of providing public health services.

The authors propose that long-term, longitudinal studies be conducted to build the databases for studies that can answer complex research questions in a changing public health environment. PHSSR needs a commitment of resources, including funding for the development of young and rigorous new researchers and faculty, to carry out the work called for by the new public health research agenda.