The Missouri Institute for Community Health facilitates a practice-based research network focused on public health systems and services. “Practice-based” means that governmental health departments work with the research team. “Systems and services” research addresses the issues that underpin programming – things like how health departments are organized, staffed, and funded. Together, practitioners and researchers undertake studies in real-world public health settings.

Businessman writing the word research against stormy dark sky wiOur research network includes small, midsized and metro health departments. Reynolds County Health Department and Douglas County Health Department represent a 9 agency coalition that provides practical guidance on small rural health departments. Kansas City Health Department, Columbia-Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services, and St. Louis County Department of Health contribute research guidance for larger, more urban health departments.

Academic partners participating include: St. Louis University School of Public Health and Social Justice (SLU/SPH),; Washington University School of Medicine (WU), which last year began to form a public health section and has an active research partnership with SLU/ PH; Missouri State University/Ozarks Public Health Institute (OPHI) whose focus is on practical public health service application;  and the University of Missouri-Columbia/Program in Improvement Sciences and Health Services Research (CHQC).

Additional research support is provided by the National Network of Medical Libraries (NN/LM), which specializes in working with researchers and locating sources of data; the Missouri Rural Health Association (MRHA), with a focus on community health systems and access to the resources of the University of Missouri System Cooperative Extension, and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MDHSS).

The Missouri Association of Local Public Health Agencies (MoALPHA), which has 104 of the 115 autonomous agencies in Missouri as its members, along with the other local health departments already listed provides instant feedback on the practicality and usefulness of the research to the public health system.

The primary aims of this network are to:

  1. Encourage and support high quality public health systems and services research (PHSSR) that is driven by the needs and interests of Missouri’s health departments, and
  2. Contribute to the advancement of PHSSR in Missouri and beyond.

The objectives are:

  1. To establish a sustainable system in which more and better practice-based research on public health systems and services can be accomplished.
  2. To increase PHSSR capacity in Missouri’s governmental public health agencies.
  3. To encourage and facilitate linkages between researchers in public and private academic settings and public health practice partners in order to design, conduct, and disseminate practice-based public health systems and services research.
  4. To add to the evidence base for effective public health systems and services in Missouri and beyond.

For more information, please contact the MICH office.