Public health systems and services research (PHSSR) examines the organization, financing, and delivery of public health services and the impact of these activities on population health. An accurate description of this PHSSR is needed to empower funding agencies and other stakeholders, to coordinate PHSSR activities, and to foster the development of the field.
To characterize the emerging community of researchers engaged in PHSSR. This study 1) describes dynamics of this growing community; and 2) identifies distinct topics being researched, communities of practice within PHSSR, and collaboration among groups.
Co-authorship network visualization of selected research publications in the Medline bibliographic database.
PHSSR has emerged gradually since 1988, with noticeable growth after 1994 and after 2004. The network of PHSSR research has a core-periphery structure. The core of this network includes highly collaborative researchers focusing on topics pertaining directly to PHSSR, such as the public health workforce, quality improvement and performance, law, and information infrastructure. The periphery consists of groups publishing either more generally on various health services research topics, or on epidemiologic, clinical, or health sciences topics.
While a nucleus group of productive and engaged individuals participate in PHSSR, most authors are also involved in general health services research, issues of population health, or health science topics unrelated to PHSSR. An overview of collaboration in PHSSR is an important step in advancing a coordinated research agenda and attracting sustainable funding streams for this field.