Researchers and policy makers continue to look at how to best design systems and implement equitable and cost-effective strategies for delivering health care and health promotion interventions to disadvantaged and underserved communities in the U.S. and abroad. The department conducts studies on improving health services performance in terms of quality, effectiveness, efficiency, coverage and equitable accessibility. Additional areas of interest include work analyzing the application of the functional areas of management such as accounting for community benefit, communication to bring about behavior changes in populations, quantitative decision models that will optimize scheduling/ordering/constrained budgeting tailored to specific healthcare delivery contexts continues to be an active area of inquiry.
Our researchers study the social context of the epidemic, how to build individual and institutional capacity to effectively respond to those afflicted with the virus and affected families and communities, preventing transmission of HIV/AIDS and other STDs through educational and advertising campaigns, promoting adherence to HIV/AIDS therapies, and studying the broader impacts on children, households, communities and health systems of HIV/AIDS in a population.
Reproductive Health and Population
The health of pregnant and nursing women and their children is influenced by a number of factors including health care access and affordability, family planning techniques and negotiation skills, health care policies and practice, and cultural practices, beliefs, and behaviors. The department supports various research activities promoting reproductive health education and training, supporting maternal health and nutrition and exploring behaviors and attitudes toward contraception use.
Many countries are faced with multiple threats to the health of their populations due to inadequate access to basic health care and poorly functioning health care systems. The department collaborates with domestic and international organizations and ministries/departments of health to improve health system performance and increase its use, particularly by those at greatest risk: women, children, and the poor. Researchers carry out a wide range of policy analysis and work with partners to understand the barriers to good design and implementation of health policy. Research interests seek to identify the factors in both public-sector and private-sector health systems which may further or hinder various public policy objectives. Data-based analysis of how care providers and care recipients respond to explicit or implicit incentives contained in policy initiatives forms the basis of policy recommendations.
Population Dynamics and Health
Changing population characteristics resulting from declining fertility, increasing migration to urban or foreign destinations, growing proportions of populations aged 65 and older, and natural or man-made disasters have profound implications for global public health and for the systems that deliver health services. Several of our full time faculty members were trained at major population research centers, and the department engages in a broad array of research and teaching that focus on the intersection of demography and public health.
Researchers have investigated the relationships between the use of health information systems and various outcomes in domestic health services delivery settings and in international health systems settings. Work has also been done looking at the determinants of information systems outsourcing in the US, and the quality of data used to evaluate information systems. Researchers are also currently working on evaluation frameworks used in the area of routine health information systems in low and middle income countries, and the implementation and evaluation of health information exchange on quality, cost and service delivery.
Nutrition and Food Security
Researchers have collaborated with national and international partners to study the trends and scale of malnutrition worldwide. Among children, they have also worked toward lowering the incidence of iodine deficiency, they world’s most easily prevented cause of brain damage and mental retardation. The methods used to monitor international public nutrition have also been used to assess the nutritional status of disadvantaged population in Louisiana.
Infectious and Vector-Borne Disease
Researchers have investigated the biocomplexity of insect adaptation to urban African environments. Over-population, poverty, and pollution have complex negative effects on the urban ecosystems and researchers seek to understand the interaction of biological, physical, and social influences on the dynamics of vector populations and the transmission of diseases in Africa.
Health economics is playing an increasingly important role in policy and operational decisions in many countries throughout the world. These include resource allocation and mobilization decisions that affect the equity and efficiency of health programs and systems. The department conducts studies on the cost-effectiveness of interventions to improve health care utilization and health outcomes. Researchers also investigate the impact of financial and organizational reforms that aim to change behaviors of households and health system providers in order to achieve better health.