UNC HPDP February 16, 2017 – It has been 30 years since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) envisioned the creation of a bridge between academic public health research and public health practice. The result is the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) Program, currently a network of 26 academic institutions across the U.S. dedicated to moving new discoveries into the communities that need them. Marking this milestone, key members of the PRC Network community share their insights and commentaries to provide an insiders’ perspective on the past, present, and future of the PRC Program in a special supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
“The 30th anniversary of the founding of the PRC Network is an appropriate time to reflect on our progress as well as look to the future. Applied prevention research with a focus on understanding health disparities and promoting health equity has never been more important than now. The PRC Network has made great strides in developing, testing, and disseminating programs and policies that have had broad and sustained impact,” commented supplement Guest Editor Dr. Mehran S. Massoudi, former PRC Director and currently the Regional Health Administrator, Region VI, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
PRC Program leaders provide a historical look, current assessment, and perspective for the future of the program. The contributions represent continuing efforts to promote health by conducting cutting-edge research and translating research to practice in partnership with communities.
Dr. James S. Marks, former CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) Director, and Dr. Jeffrey P. Koplan, former NCCDPHP and CDC Director, review the early years of the PRCs and offer perspectives into the future. They examine the early struggles that led to missed opportunities and how the original goal of PRCs, namely, practical research in challenged communities as a core part of the academic enterprise of scholarship, service, and training, has been accomplished. They observed that “the bridge the PRCs have helped to build between public health academia and practice is broad, heavily traveled, and has brought longer, healthier, more fulfilling lives to all.”
Four former PRC directors look back on some unique challenges faced by the PRC Program and how they ultimately successfully addressed them. Eduardo J. Simoes, MD, MSc, MPH, Director from 2002 until 2011, noted, “Along the way and every day, this partnership of government, academia, and community traveled a bumpy road with improved pavement provided by dedicated federal public health officials motivated by knowledge and a strong sense of duty.”
Leaders from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and National Association of County and City Health Officials provide a frame from the practice-based perspective on how the PRC Program serves as a resource to state and local public health departments as they fulfill their public health mission.
Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health and American College of Preventive Medicine representatives provide a perspective of the PRC Program as an integral portfolio of the Schools of Public Health and Medicine to advance population health. The PRCs are pushing academic research to pay more attention to on-the-ground prevention efforts, state and local health departments that benefit from closer ties to the research institutions, and the public, which gains an evidence-based platform for health promotion and disease prevention.
The supplement documents the story of how PRC Programs have impacted the health of African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, deaf populations, adolescents, older adults, and urban and rural under-resourced populations. Other articles deal with measuring the impact of a national media intervention implemented across the PRC Network, evaluating healthy food incentive programs, assessing fall risk prevention programs, and promoting teen contraception through parental intervention.
Twenty-one peer-reviewed original research articles from the PRC academic and community partners show the depth and scope of their work. These articles cover a wide range of important topics including dissemination and implementation of long-standing evidence-based programs, including formation of thematic research networks in physical activity, healthy aging, cancer prevention and control, and epilepsy management; health surveillance of the deaf community; research to practice in state and local public health settings; collaboration with community partners; use of community health workers or “promotoras;” and training of the public health workforce.
Reaching out to the public health community, Dr. Massoudi noted, “In looking to the future, we must build on the work of the past 30 years, incorporating new knowledge and technology while remaining committed to our mission of working as an interdependent network of community, academic, and public health partners to conduct prevention research and promote the wide use of practices proven to promote good health.”
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Alice S. Ammerman, DrPH, Prevention Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Ross C. Brownson, PhD, Prevention Research Center in St. Louis, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Jeffrey R. Harris, MD, MPH, MBA, Prevention Research Center, University of Washington School of Public Health, Seattle, WA
Mehran S. Massoudi, PhD, MPH, Regional Health Administrator, Region VI, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, DHHS, Dallas, TX; formerly the Director of the Prevention Research Centers Program, CDC, Atlanta GA
This supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, volume 52, issue 3 (March 2017), published by Elsevier, is openly available at http://www.ajpmonline.org/issue/S0749-3797(17)X0002-0. Please visit the site to view the table of contents and access full text of the contributions.
Full text of these articles is also available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Jillian B. Morgan at +1 734-936-1590 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Journalists wishing to interview the authors should contact Dr. Mehran S. Massoudi, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, at +1 214-767-8433, +1 202-853-4235 (mobile) or Mehran.Massoudi@hhs.gov.
This publication was made possible through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research (APTR) Cooperative Agreement No. 1 U36 OE000005. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, or the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, or APTR.
About the American Journal of Preventive Medicine
The American Journal of Preventive Medicine (www.ajpmonline.org) is the official journal of The American College of Preventive Medicine (www.acpm.org) and the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research (http://www.aptrweb.org/). It publishes articles in the areas of prevention research, teaching, practice and policy. Original research is published on interventions aimed at the prevention of chronic and acute disease and the promotion of individual and community health. The journal features papers that address the primary and secondary prevention of important clinical, behavioral and public health issues such as injury and violence, infectious disease, women’s health, smoking, sedentary behaviors and physical activity, nutrition, diabetes, obesity, and alcohol and drug abuse. Papers also address educational initiatives aimed at improving the ability of health professionals to provide effective clinical prevention and public health services. The journal also publishes official policy statements from the two co-sponsoring organizations, health services research pertinent to prevention and public health, review articles, media reviews, and editorials.
The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, with an Impact Factor of 4.465, is ranked 14th in Public, Environmental, and Occupational Health titles and 16th in General & Internal Medicine titles for total number of citations according to the 2015 Journal Citation Reports® published by Thomson Reuters, 2016.
Elsevier (www.elsevier.com) is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions – among them ScienceDirect (www.sciencedirect.com), Scopus (www.scopus.com), Elsevier Research Intelligence (www.elsevier.com/research-intelligence), and ClinicalKey (www.clinicalkey.com) – and publishes over 2,500 journals, including The Lancet (www.thelancet.com) and Cell (www.cell.com), and more than 35,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works. Elsevier is part of RELX Group (www.relx.com), a world-leading provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries. www.elsevier.com
About Prevention Research Centers (PRC)
PRC is a network of 26 academic research centers in 24 states that study how people and their communities can avoid or counter the risks for chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, obesity and cancer. These centers are located at either a school of public health or a medical school that has a preventive medicine residency program. As leaders in translating research results into policy and public health practice, the centers work with communities to develop, evaluate, and implement major community changes that can prevent and control chronic diseases. They identify gaps in research and develop innovative approaches to improving public health that can be shared broadly with public health partners. www.cdc.gov/prc