Collaborating Research Centers (CRCs)

About the Centers

The Systems for Action National Coordinating Center is identifying system-level strategies for enhancing the reach, quality, efficiency, and equity of services and supports that promote health and well-being on a population-wide basis. Providing expertise in diverse health and social science disciplines, the centers are conducting studies that test novel ways of integrating the multiple financing and delivery systems that support a Culture of Health in U.S. communities.

Each Collaborating Research Center (CRC) is leading research initiatives that test innovative ways of integrating medical, public health, social, and community services. Collectively these studies focus on solving the vexing problems of fragmentation, duplication, and variation that currently exist in the delivery and financing of services that address social determinants of health and well-being. Research conducted by the centers identifies how services in sectors such as housing, transportation, food and nutrition, criminal justice, and arts and culture can be better coordinated with medical and public health services so as to achieve larger and more equitable impacts on health and well-being. All three centers work closely with the National Coordinating Center on collaborative research projects designed to expand scientific knowledge about ways of improving population health through multi-sector alignment and integration.

Center Research




Financing and Service Delivery Integration for Mental Illness
and Substance Abuse

Principal Investigators: William Riley, PhD & Michael Shafer, PhD

Fragmentation and lack of coordination between health care delivery, public health, and community service systems represent a significant barrier to improving health, well-being, and equity. Drawing from health care, public health, social work, criminology, health economics, and biomedical informatics, the investigators are investigating system-level strategies that achieve alignment, partnership and synergy across the delivery and financing systems for medical care, public health, and social and community services, specifically by:

  • using Participatory Action Research methodologies to investigate and identify gaps in how multisector services, delivery systems, and financing streams are currently aligned;
  • estimating and identifying redundancies, gaps, and bottle-necks in the current health system to understand the fragmented and siloed structure of health care for persons with behavioral health disorders; and
  • triangulating multisector evidence regarding alignment of financing and delivery systems.






Improving Population and Clinical Health with Integrated Services and Decision Support

Principal Investigators: Paul K. Halverson, DrPH, & Joshua R. Vest, PhD

Population and individual health are significantly influenced by social determinants that range from individuals’ knowledge and behaviors to community-level characteristics, resources, and conditions. The expertise and infrastructure to address these multiple and diverse challenges are divided among systems that often fail to work collaboratively because of misalignment between their respective delivery of services, strategy, and financing. To identify strategies for addressing this misalignment by partnering with informatics, public health, and sociology researchers, the principal investigators are examining Federally Qualified Health Centers services to:

  • determine the impact of integrated service delivery on health outcomes in a safety-net population;
  • determine the impact of community, population, and public health advanced analytics in identifying and linking patients to needed integrated services; and
  • identify the benefits.




The Comprehensive Care, Community, and Culture Program

Principal Investigators: David Meltzer MD, PhD, & Harold Pollack, PhD

A health care system that fails to appreciate the need for public health and public policies that address social determinants of health is fundamentally limited. To address the complex dimensions and determinants of health, efforts to improve health must extend to sectors far beyond traditional health care. The principal investigators and a multidisciplinary team of experts from public health, spatial analysis, health disparities, policy, information technology, children’s health, and participatory research are developing, testing, and scaling interventions to improve the lives of urban residents as part of a cross-sectoral approach in health, poverty, crime, education, and energy and environment, and are specifically:

  • piloting a randomized controlled trial to establish and begin to evaluate a new model of care – the Comprehensive Care, Community and Culture Program (C4P);
  • engaging local, state and national stakeholders in the dissemination of the results by building on strong previously established relationships and by engaging the insights of C4P participants to inform these activities, and ultimately to improve health for vulnerable populations while reducing health care costs.