Research Agenda of the Research to Action Network - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Research Agenda

Minnesota Public Health Research to Action Network

Finance and Economics

  • What factors influence local elected officials when determining whether/how much local tax levy to allocate to local health departments? What is the range in the percentage of total local tax levy allocated to public health? How has this changed over time? Is tax levy allocated to certain programs or the entire department?
  • Are there optimum funding mixes for a functional health department, program or area of public health responsibility?
  • How do local health departments build sustainable programs/activities?

Governance and Organizational Structures

  • When community health boards or local health departments implement change(s) to the governance and/or organizational structure, to what extent are the goals/purposes of the re-structuring achieved? What are the unintended consequences? Implications for Minnesota?
  • How should Minnesota’s State/Local Partnership balance local control with standardization? What are the costs and benefits associated with greater uniformity? Greater variation?


  • What size and type of workforce is needed to provide a particular set of public health services for a given population?
  • What are the leadership characteristics needed in a health department to successfully support / advocate for policy development at the state and local level? What leadership characteristics of management, staff, and governing board are needed to support transformational change in a health department?
  • Are there optimum staffing mixes in a functional health department?
  • What kinds of leadership development activities are most likely to build strong public health leaders?

Delivery and Practice

  • Does integrating QI and having a “culture of quality” lead to a more effective and stronger health department?
  • Will accreditation impact structures, or will structures impact accreditation? Will accreditation lead to structural changes intended to improve performance, or will health departments with low capacity to achieve the national standards choose to forgo voluntary accreditation? Will it matter if some are accredited and some are not?
  • How can we better structure, finance and staff our local health departments and/or community health boards to do more population-based public health? To achieve better outcomes?
  • How can we use available data to measure the types of service and amounts of service provided by local health departments and community health boards? How do the types and amounts of public health service vary? Change over time? Impacts?

Law and Policy

  • Is there a package of statutory requirements that—at a minimum—are required for an effective local health department or community health board? Electronic information exchange surfaced as another area of interest, though no specific research question was identified.