The Center for Public Health Systems (CPHS) supports research priorities of its partners, emphasizing projects which assess public health impact and strengthen public health systems and workforces. For a full list of publications and presentations visit our ResearchGate Lab.


CPHS is committed to increasing knowledge and understanding of critical issues impacting the current and future public health workforce. This includes finding ways to assist public health entities in applying new knowledge in workforce research to their workforce planning.

Areas of workforce research for the center include:

  • Using data to better understand hiring and retention of public health staff,
  • Tracking changes in educational attainment of public health workforce, and
  • Identifying areas of growth and strength amongst public health staff.

Public Health Systems and Services

CPHS is committed to increasing knowledge and understanding of critical issues that impact public health systems and services. This includes finding ways to assist public health entities at the state,  regional, and local levels to apply current and emerging research to their organizations.

Areas of study in public health systems and services research for the center include:

  • Understanding the impact of public health funding on health outcomes;
  • Quantifying the value of public health expenditures on community health; and
  • The application of defined sets of public health services and public health modernization activities, such as the 21st Century Initiative and Foundational Public Health Services.


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Active Projects

As a component of applications for initial accreditation or re-accreditation, health departments around the nation have submitted workforce development plans (WDPs) to the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). PHAB has made these WDPs available to researchers at CPHS and the University of Indiana’s Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health. Researchers are qualitatively coding these plans to identify competency frameworks in use and any gaps, intended activities, or strategic approaches related to topics in workforce development, such as recruitment diversity, leadership succession planning, and staff satisfaction assessment. Outputs from this project may illuminate commonalities across WDPs, highlight innovative practices, and work toward defining what makes a “high-quality” WDP.

In February 2021, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) launched the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector to help Minnesotans find out where, when, and how they could get a COVID-19 vaccination. While the connector sought to ensure access to the COVID-19 vaccines to all Minnesotans, the Minnesota Governor’s Office did explicitly state, “The Vaccine Connector will also improve the ability of communities of color to access the vaccine”.

This project will examine whether the connector achieved the above-stated equity goals. Specifically, did the connector reach Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities? Secondarily, this project will examine whether the connector reached communities with lower socioeconomic status and rural Minnesotans.

Data use agreements with the Office of Vital Records at the Minnesota Department of Health allows us access to digitized death certificate records in Minnesota from 2011 to present. Ongoing projects use this data to examine excess mortality during the pandemic, burden of the pandemic on different racial and occupational groups and the quality of the causes of death listed on the death certificates.

Data use agreements with GovSpend, a nationally recognized technology company that aggregates purchase order data from local, state and federal governmental agencies allows us access to quality government purchase data. We are currently using this data to investigate the rise of generic brands of PPE during the pandemic and the prices that local health agencies paid to procure PPE.

Public health workforce has changed drastically in the past decade with even more shifts occurring resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. CPHS staff is collaborating with other field experts on an article for Annual Review of Public Health that will capture the most pertinent events, changes, and challenges facing the public health workforce over the past 10 years.

The Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) is collaborating with CPHS staff on an article analyzing trends in undergraduate public health degree conferrals and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previously, Dr. Leider provided technical expertise to a partnership between the Public Health National Center for Innovations (PHNCI) and the de Beaumont Foundation that aimed to establish the minimum full-time equivalents (FTEs) necessary for the development of infrastructure and provision of minimum services. Researchers used expenditure and staffing data for a sample of local and state health departments to develop a national estimate for current FTEs and needed FTEs for state and local health departments to provide basic foundational public health services.

CPHS staff provide technical expertise to a continuation of the partnership between PHNCI and the de Beaumont Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Center for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support (CSTLTS). This second phase of work includes additional data collection, analysis, and modeling to guide the development of a public health workforce calculator to aid health departments in determining the number and type of staff necessary to provide sufficient levels of public health services.

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