Public Health Services & Systems Research

Public health services and systems research (PHSSR) addresses the need for solid information to help guide decisions related to the infrastructure of public health - its organization, staffing, financing and management. Those decisions have critical implications for the quality and performance of the United States public health system - and the health of people in our communities. For example, how do budget reductions in local and state health departments affect the rate of chronic disease in a community? What public health organizational structures lend themselves to healthier communities? What are the pros and cons of shared public health services? The field of PHSSR tackles these questions and more (see the PHSSR research agenda) to find evidence-based answers, providing solid information about effective and efficient strategies to those who are trying to balance limited resources with an ever-growing demand for public health services.  

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and housed at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, the National Coordinating Center for PHSSR and the Public Health Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN) National Coordinating Center join forces to conduct research, support other researchers in the field, and disseminate findings to practitioners and policy-makers. The centers provide valuable resources for researchers, practitioners and policy-makers; offer funding opportunities and improve and facilitate data sources for researchers; and sponsor the annual Keeneland Conference, the premier national PHSSR gathering. The PBRN National Coordinating Center brings state and local public health agencies together with research partners in 24 states to design and implement studies in real-world settings. Ultimately, the answers uncovered through this body of research will help us be more effective and productive in our mission to improve health status.