The Public Health Practice‐Based Research Networks (PBRN) Program is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that supports the development of research networks for studying the comparative effectiveness, efficiency and equity of public health strategies in real-world practice settings.

Practice-based research networks have been used successfully to study medical care innovations and test quality improvement strategies in clinical settings. Building on this model, the Public Health PBRN Program, launched in 2008, is the first national initiative in the United States to develop PBRNs for research in public health practice settings.

What are Public Health PBRNs?

Public Health PBRNs expand the scientific knowledge needed for evidence‐based decision‐making in public health through:

  • Comparative studies of the organization, financing, and delivery of public health services in different public health practice settings;
  • Multi-site observational studies to reduce unnecessary, inefficient, or harmful variations in practice;
  • Intervention studies and community trials testing effectiveness of new programs and quality improvement initiatives for existing ones; and
  • Evaluations to monitor effects of changes in laws, policies, regulations, staffing, funding, organizational structures.

A PBRN brings public health agencies together with academic research partners to identify pressing research questions of interest, design rigorous and relevant studies, execute research effectively, and translate findings rapidly into practice.

Who Participates in Public Health PBRNs?

The Public Health PBRN Program currently supports 12 research networks composed of local and state governmental public health agencies, community partners, and collaborating academic research institutions.

The program also offers affiliate membership to organizations interested in developing and/or implementing a Public Health PBRN. The affiliate membership offers many of the same benefits as those available to the program grantees.

The Public Health PBRN Program National Coordinating Center (NCC) is located at the University of Kentucky under the direction of Dr. Glen Mays. The NCC provides technical assistance to the networks and organizes larger comparative studies across diverse practice settings.

The program’s core networks are located in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Washington and Wisconsin.

The program’s 12 registered affiliate PBRNs are located in California, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Vermont.

How Can I Get Involved?

Another way to be involved is to send your ideas for research to address important, time-sensitive issues in public health practice. Your idea may become the basis for Quick Strike Research Fund (QSRF) studies, which are implemented by Public Health PBRN grantees. Ideas may come from anyone with an interest in public health. Submissions can be made via email to PublicHealthPBRN@uky.edu.