Sometimes the week gets away from us and we end up with a stack of Health Affairs issues on our desks and an overwhelming number of unread items in our Google Reader. The weekend is a time to catch up, and this weekend, we’ll be closely reading the five notable articles submitted for the Public Health Systems Research (PHSR) Article-of-the-Year Award. The award honors the best scientific work that the field of PHSR produced and published in 2011. This award, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and selected by AcademyHealth’s PHSR Interest Group, recognizes articles that present, analyze, and comment on new data or synthesize and analyze data that have already been collected in the field of PHSR. The following finalists were selected for their contribution to the understanding of public health systems; provision of new insights to the field of PHSR; and potential to advance the field and/or challenge current thinking. Take some time to read the best of PHSR: "What is the Role of Free Clinics in the Safety Net?"  Julie Darnell. November 2011, Vol. 49, No. 11, Medical Care

This study contributes the first known attempt to examine why the free clinic sector as a whole exists, and specifically addresses the widespread untested assumption that free clinics exist where need is apparent.

"Informing the National Public Health Accreditation Movement: Lessons from North Carolina's Accredited Local Health Departments" Mary V. Davis et al. September 2011, Vol. 101, No. 9, American Journal of Public Health

The article is a comprehensive examination of North Carolina’s experience in accreditation, looking at the specific impact on public health.

"Antipsychotic Treatment Among Youth in Foster Care" Susan dosReis et al. December 2011, Vol 128, No. 6, Pediatrics

This is the first-known study to examine concomitant antipsychotic use among subgroups of youth in foster care. The authors examine the intersections of the Medicaid, mental health, and foster care systems, and the policy implications for vulnerable populations.

"Evidence Links Increases in Public Health Spending to Declines in Preventable Deaths" Glen P. Mays and Sharla A. Smith. August 2011, Vol. 30, No. 8, Health Affairs

The authors present a unique analytical strategy to assess the link between public health spending and outcomes (preventable deaths). They identify important limitations and provide recommendations for future studies and system improvements.

"Why Behavioral and Environmental Interventions Are Needed to Improve Health at Lower Cost" Bobby Milstein et al.May 2011, Vol. 30, No. 5, Health Affairs

The authors illustrate how the addition of public investment in protection programs would slow the growth in disease and injury prevalence, alleviate demand on primary care capacity, and reduce costs, especially in the long term.

  The winner has been selected by the PHSR Interest Group, and will be recognized on June 26 at the PHSR Interest Group Annual Meeting in Orlando. Happy weekend!  
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