NC Institute for Public Health receives RWJF grant for public health services and systems research

Research aimed at strengthening public health locally and nationally

The NC Institute for Public Health, part of the Gillings School of Global Public Health received a $156,467 grant today from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that will help build evidence on how best to improve the quality and performance of the United States public health system.

The proposed research will examine if accredited NC local health departments demonstrate greater improvements in service delivery outputs and health indicators when compared with non-accredited health departments and examine other factors that could influence this relationship. This research will build on existing evaluation and research efforts of the North Carolina Local Health Department Accreditation program.

The research team from Chapel Hill includes Mary Davis, DrPH, lead investigator, Ed Baker, MD, MPH, senior investigator and director of the NC Institute for Public Health, Dorothy Cilenti, MPH, DrPH (c), co-investigator and Institute deputy director, Mike Bowling, PhD, statistician, UNC Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, Molly Cannon, MPH, and Liz Mahanna, MPH, Institute research associates.

Davis’ grant is one of four awards given by RWJF during the fourth round of a funding program to build the field of public health services and systems research. The research team will explore how participation in the North Carolina Local Health Department Accreditation program has influenced North Carolina’s local health departments (LHDs) and whether it has improved the delivery of services and health outcomes.

“The benefit of this research,” says Davis, who heads the Institute’s evaluation services,
“is to better understand how accreditation influences NC local health departments and to hopefully inform the development of the national accreditation model under the direction of the Public Health Accreditation Board.”

“These grants will advance our knowledge of how different models of public health service delivery influence health outcomes,” said Debra Perez, RWJF senior program officer. “The lessons from these projects ultimately identify strategies to keep people healthier and ensure that they receive critical public health services.”

These grants are administered through the Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization (HCFO) initiative, an RWJF program managed by AcademyHealth. HCFO strives to bridge the health policy and health services research communities by reaching two primary objectives: to provide public and private decision-makers with usable and timely information on health care policy, financing, and market developments; and to bring together the policy and research communities through significant convening, issues identification, research translation, and communication activities. Through the special topic solicitation in Public Health Services and Systems Research, HCFO supports investigator-initiated research examining the organization, financing, and delivery of public health services and the impact of these activities on population health.

About the North Carolina Institute for Public Health
The NC Institute for Public Health is the service and outreach arm of the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It offers training programs, consulting and evaluation services to public health practitioners and agencies. For more information, visit

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change.

For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit