LEXINGTON, KY— The University of Kentucky College of Public Health received a $1.2 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to lead a new national research program focused on improving the delivery of health and social services. The award will support the initial year of the multi-year Systems for Action (S4A) research program, which will test methods for coordinating nation’s complex and fragmented systems for medical care, public health and social services.
The S4A program will study the delivery and financing systems for a broad range of services and supports that are fundamental to health and wellbeing, such as medical care, transportation, housing, nutrition and child care. The program will support studies based at the University of Kentucky and at collaborating centers across the United States.
“Keeping an entire community healthy and productive requires a bundle of interrelated services and supports, but unfortunately we tend to pay for and deliver them piecemeal, which can be ineffective or even counterproductive,” Glen Mays, director of the new center and Scutchfield Endowed Professor of Health Services and Systems Research in the College of Public Health, said. “Through S4A, we will discover how to align services and systems in ways that can improve health and reduce disparities across the country, and maybe even save some money.”
A UK College of Public Health team with extensive experience managing RWJF’s previous National Coordinating Center for Public Health Services and Systems Research joins Mays in directing the program. “We have been privileged to spend the last several years working with researchers across the U.S. who are passionate about optimizing the public health system to improve population health,” Anna Hoover, S4A center co-director, said. “We are thrilled to expand that lens and facilitate multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral research that can improve quality, efficiency and equity in service delivery.”
A new partnership with the UK Center for Poverty Research (UKCPR), housed in the UK Gatton College of Business and Economics, enhances the team’s expertise. This academic research center studies the causes and consequences of poverty and inequality, along with the programs and policies designed to solve these problems. According to director James Ziliak, poverty and poor health are linked, so the delivery and financing systems that target these problems need to be connected in productive ways.
S4A is one of three new RWJF research programs the foundation’s vision to work with others to build evidence for a national Culture of Health in which everyone has the opportunity to live their healthiest life possible. Evidence for Action, housed at the University of California, San Francisco, is an investigator-initiated research program designed to support high-impact, action-oriented research. Policies for Action, housed at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, will explore how policies, laws and other regulatory tools can support RWJF’s mission to build a Culture of Health as they are put into practice in both the public and private sectors.
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