Advancing Fields of Study in Public Health Systems Research and Public Health Finance

A guiding coalition to facilitate the advancement of public health systems research and public health finance has recently emerged with an award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. A 19-month $230,000 award has been made to fund a project titled Public Health Finance: Advancing a field of study through public health systems research. The multi-institution project, developed and lead by the Mississippi Department of Healthís Office of Science, was funded through Emory University Rollins School of Public Health where the project is coordinated. Other collaborators include the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Public Health and the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. Objectives of the project are to increase the dissemination of key public heath systems research findings while also engaging policymakers, administrators, practitioners, academics, research funders, and other public health system stakeholders. Structured dialogue will take place at a national public health systems research conference on February 8, 2006 at APHA Headquarters in Washington D C and a series of open meetings at Emory University. Researchers and other stakeholders will present findings and discuss relevant topics to inform, educate, and increase the knowledge needed to strengthen decision-making at all levels in the public health system. The meetings will serve as a platform to raise awareness about contemporary public health challenges as well. A monograph of the conference will be published to ensure knowledge sharing and wide distribution of conference proceedings.

A speakerís bureau has also been established to provide additional opportunities for researchers, policymakers, and others to present on public health systems research at national events. Special emphasis will be placed on the participation and engagement of national, state, and local policymakers and funders of public health systems research. Stipends for public health graduate students to attend the events will be available to expose and recruit them to the field while also affording them opportunities to network with public health leaders and subject experts. This website was developed as part of the project to enhance information dissemination.

The value of this project to the advancement of public health finance is monumental. A portion of the funding has been dedicated to develop a special finance issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice scheduled for publication in January 2007. A Call for Papers has been issued in addition to the commissioning of papers on key public health finance topics. This publication of the journal will build on the first finance issue that was published in September 2004 and will significantly increase the literature on public health finance. A selection of papers published in the journal will be submitted for panel presentations at national conferences to advance dialogue and dissemination of research findings. Additionally, a monetary award will be given to the best paper as judged by the projectís planning committee. The project will culminate with a journal release event in December 2006 to distribute and showcase the January 2007 finance edition. A major anticipated outcome of the project is that the leadership exerted to develop, execute, and sustain the project will continue and even expand.