New Publication Establishes Road Map for Future of Public Health Services & Systems Research

LEXINGTON, KY (April 24, 2012) - A new publication highlights a road map for the growth of research that looks at how public health agencies and their partners can most effectively and efficiently keep people healthy and safe. 

A special supplement to the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM) outlines the new agenda for public health services and systems research (PHSSR), a multi-disciplinary field of study that examines the organization, financing, delivery and quality of public health services within communities and the impact of those services on public health. 

Announced at the fifth Keeneland Conference on PHSSR in Lexington, Ky., the supplement is the culmination of an effort by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Services and Systems Research, the Altarum Institute and various other research and practice organizations to formalize a research agenda for the developing field of PHSSR. 

“The supplement looks at gaps where we in public health lack knowledge, pinpointing areas that need attention, whether from researchers, practitioners or policy-makers – or all three,” said Dr. F. Douglas Scutchfield, director of the National Coordinating Center for PHSSR, which is funded by RWJF and housed at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health. “By informing those interested in public health services and systems about what we have learned thus far and presenting a guide to where it’s headed, the supplement will shape public health research, practice and policy for years to come.”

  • The new research agenda addresses issues surrounding public health workforce; system structure and performance; financing and economics; and information and technology. For example, the agenda urges a closer look at such questions as: What effect has the economic recession had on how public health services are funded – and whether they’re effective and efficient, despite the financial challenges and demand for services? 
  • How does the size and composition of the public health workforce affect how public health services are delivered? 
  • How does the organizational structure of public health systems – for example, county versus regional health departments – affect health outcomes?

The agenda also will be used to track the work of the research community, resulting in a better means to guide the evolution of the research agenda.

“The agenda is a navigational tool for the field, providing needed focus and an intellectual guide post for the future of PHSSR,” said Debra Joy Pérez, assistant vice president in Research and Evaluation for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Ultimately, the goal is for the agenda to provide guidance that will drive more practice-relevant research in the field and support decision-making in public health to improve the health and well-being of communities.” 

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine is the official journal of The American College of Preventive Medicine and The Association for Prevention Teaching and Research. AJPM publishes original research and review articles in the areas of prevention research, teaching, practice, and policy. 

To view the supplement, visit the National Coordinating Center website at

Media Contact: Ann Blackford at (859)323-6442 or