Mapping the multidisciplinary field of public health services and systems research

Jenine K. Harris, Kate E. Beatty, Jesse D. Lecy, Julianne M. Cyr, Robert M. Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Context: Public health services and systems research (PHSSR) is the field of study charged with evaluating the public health system. PHSSR currently lacks a clear identity integrating the many theories, approaches, and disciplines contributing to the field. Evidence acquisition: Experts in PHSSR were consulted to identify 11 key published PHSSR studies. With these articles as a starting point, a newly developed citation data collection system was used to collect a sample of 2986 documents connected to the key articles through citation linkages. Data were collected in October 2009. Evidence synthesis: Citation network methods and latent position cluster modeling were used to examine the network of documents. A subset of 108 documents comprising the backbone of the network was identified through main-path analysis. Four unique clusters were identified within the main path. The core cluster consisted of older articles focused on local health department activities, partnerships, and effectiveness. The three non-core clusters focused on public health law, behavioral interventions, and national performance standards. Although all non-core clusters cited the core, there was little crosstalk among the non-core clusters, a pattern consistent with multidisciplinary fields. Conclusions: PHSSR appears to be a multidisciplinary field with research happening in silos across different research areas. Developing transdisciplinary research connections across PHSSR is necessary to meet national PHSSR goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-111
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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