Practice-Based Research Networks Funded to Study Differences in Public Health Delivery Strategies

Posted: September 23, 2014

With $1.4 million of new research funding, Public Health Practice-Based Research Networks (PBRNs) in 11 U.S. states will investigate strategies to more effectively and efficiently deliver services that protect the public against an array of preventable diseases and health risks.  Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Dissemination and Implementation Research to Improve Value (DIRECTIVE) awards will support four projects examining the types of resources, infrastructures, partnerships, and inter-organizational coordination that best facilitate the implementation of evidence-based prevention programs and services by public health agencies and their community partners.

Each award will provide up to $350,000 to support multi-state studies by a consortium of two or more Public Health PBRNs, which bring together multiple public health practice settings and research partners to conduct applied and comparative studies. Using standardized measures and methods previously developed by Public Health PBRNs, investigators will assess both the quality and the costs associated with alternative strategies for delivering public health services, in order to draw conclusions about their comparative effectiveness and value.  The two-year DIRECTIVE awards will be managed by the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Services & Systems Research, housed at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.

“Evidence-based practices and policies can promote a healthier nation, but how those practices and policies are put into place in real-world settings can greatly enhance or dilute their effectiveness,” said Coordinating Center Director Glen Mays, Ph.D. “This research will help us identify the best strategies for maximizing public health system contributions to our nation’s health.” 

The funded Public Health PBRN projects are:

The California and Alabama PBRNs will identify best approaches for implementing sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention, screening, and treatment resources and services across public health agencies and their community partners. The PBRNs will collaboratively investigate how the organizational and financial arrangements of STD services influence the reach, effectiveness, and treatment costs of evidence-based STD interventions.

The Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas PBRNs seek to understand how state and other system-level dissemination and implementation initiatives and investments affect local health department (LHD) implementation of quality improvement (QI) projects, as well as LHD readiness to seek nationally recognized voluntary accreditation. The PBRNs will assess how local context and network connections among LHDs and state-level partners impact QI and accreditation readiness at the local level.

The Connecticut and Massachusetts PBRNs will assess the impact of cross-jurisdictional service sharing arrangements on the implementation of evidence-based food inspections, enteric disease investigations, and obesity prevention services. Further, the project will systematically investigate the ways in which political priorities influence the implementation of these public health services.

The Washington, Wisconsin, New York, and Oregon PBRNs will examine how cross-jurisdictional sharing of staff, money, and other resources influences the quality and cost of LHD service delivery. Focusing on the domains of immunizations, sexually transmitted infections, and enteric diseases, the PBRNs will identify sharing-related factors that promote and inhibit the efficient provision of evidence-based practice.

Collectively, these projects will identify partnerships, arrangements, and other strategies that can efficiently and effectively support an evidence-based public health system.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kara Richardson,


About the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Services & Systems Research:  The National Coordinating Center supports applied research that uncovers strategies for improving the organization, financing, and delivery of public health programs and policies, including ways of improving the health and economic impact of these activities. The Center designs and conducts research studies, provides technical assistance and direction for other researchers across the U.S., develops methodological advances in measurement and analysis, and accelerates the translation and dissemination of research findings for policy and practice stakeholders.  The Center is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and based at the University of Kentucky. 

About the Public Health Practice-Based Research Networks Program: The Public Health PBRN Program is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that engages public health practice settings and research institutions across the U.S. in the collaborative study of innovations in public health practice and policy. More than 2000 state and local public health agencies located in more than 30 states are engaged in Public Health PBRN activities along with more than 50 academic research centers.  The PBRN program is directed by the National Center for Public Health Services & Systems Research based at the University of Kentucky.