Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Today, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced the new direction for its Research-Evaluation-Learning Team (REL) under the Culture of Health vision, and research on laws, regulations, and policies is a key component.

The Public Health Law Research program (PHLR) has been part of the REL team for about a year. The REL team will now include three signature research programs that will support RWJF’s commitment to learning about what builds a Culture of Health. RWJF has committed roughly $25 million in new funding over the next three years for these three new programs, which will provide new funding opportunities for continued research of the policies, laws, system interventions, and community dynamics that improve health and well-being, with emphasis on sectors not typically associated with health, such as transportation and housing.

  • Evidence for Action, led by a team at the University of California, San Francisco, will support investigator-initiated research that spans the full range of topics and methodologies needed to build an evidence base for a Culture of Health. This program will be the first to begin considering research proposals, with an announcement expected in June.
  • Systems for Action, based at the University of Kentucky, will specifically explore ways to better align and integrate public health delivery and financing systems with health care, social services, and other community systems, incorporating the Kentucky team’s experience running RWJF’s National Coordinating Center for Public Health Services and Systems Research.  
  • Policies for Action, based here at Temple University, will specifically explore how policies, laws, and regulations in both the public and private sectors can support a Culture of Health. This new work will launch from the work and insights of our team’s six years of experience with the Public Health Law Research program.

Together, these programs will support analyses of the impact of innovative programs and policies on overall health and well-being, and explore topics that extend beyond the traditional understanding of health as just the absence of illness, to a broader understanding of well-being that is influenced by a range of factors affecting communities, the environment, and other social and economic determinants of health.

PHLR will continue its work over the next 12 months, providing support to our current and past grantees as they produce and disseminate their findings. PHLR and its website will remain a resource for research methods, materials, and scientifically rigorous evidence.