25 Years of Publication: Twelve Major Themes: Commentary
The best way to translate knowledge into practice has perplexed many working in the public health arena since before the discovery of germ theory. However, the science of how to best disseminate and implement research findings in real-world settings has recently taken a prominent role in public health. Appropriately over the past 25 years, the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice has served as a bidirectional knowledge connector between the research and practice communities. In the last decade, more than 30 articles have been published in the journal specifically on issues around dissemination and implementation, including recent articles detailing various implementation strategies and successes1–4 and new methods for dissemination of public health knowledge.5
While maximizing dissemination and implementation is still an issue, considerable progress in the field of dissemination and implementation science had been made in the past quarter century. This has accompanied the establishment of academic health departments,6 which have increased emphasis on scholarship in state and local health departments while providing practice expertise in schools of public health. This movement, along with the accreditation of health departments, has steadily increased the linkage from research to practice. While changes in health department practices affect the “pull” side of the research-to-practice divide, it is also essential to focus on the “push” side. For example, a recent editorial in the journal focuses on the need to develop tenure and promotion guidelines that reward work in dissemination and other types of knowledge transfer.7 As the conventional wisdom goes, what is measured gets done. Therefore, if more schools and programs of public health adjust their tenure and promotion criteria to reward dissemination efforts and provide training on dissemination strategies, more faculty will find time to engage in this important work.
Since its inception 25 years ago, the journal has been focused on shrinking the research-to-practice divide. This can be seen directly in the types of articles that the journal accepts, which includes not only the traditional research article but also practice reports and case studies. In addition, research and practice article types include a section on implications for policy and practice. More than any other academic journal, these guidelines have helped to shape the journal as the premier outlet for research relevant to policy and evidence-based public health practice. The recent addition of the journal's companion site, JPHMPDirect.com, provides freely accessible, easily digestible content for practitioner audiences and highlights the journal's commitment to knowledge dissemination. This collection of articles, infographics, podcasts, and videos disseminates important public health information through several user-friendly formats. With links and highlights of the articles published in the journal, a true multimedia platform for dissemination has been created.
One of the biggest changes in public health practice is how information gets disseminated. With the rise of social media, mobile phones, and instant communication, tools are available to public health organizations that would have been unimaginable in 1995 when the journal launched. However, these tools have caused a subsequent rise in the volume of information and misinformation that is broadcast widely. These challenges and successful strategies are highlighted in recent dissemination-focused articles in the journal that include the use of social media and other electronic outlets to spread time-sensitive information during emergency or infectious disease outbreak scenarios. In addition, a growing number of articles in the journal focus on the dissemination of chronic disease programs, such as those focused on obesity prevention, smoking cessation quit lines, breast cancer information kiosks, and skin cancer prevention. These and others can be found as part of the Dissemination and Implementation collection on the journal's Web site.
A lot has changed since 1995, but a lot has also stayed the same. In the inaugural issue, Louis Rowitz wrote about linkages between academics and practice leadership development in public health.8 He wrote about how academics believed that practitioners wanted to know the same thing that we teach our academic students, rather than practical skills. These words read as true today as they did when they were written 25 years ago.
1. Beck AJ, Coronado F, Boulton ML, Merrill JA, Public Health Enumeration Working Group. The Public Health Workforce Taxonomy: revisions and recommendations for implementation. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2018;24(5):E1–E11.
2. Purtle J, Field RI, Hipper T, Nash-Arott J, Chernak E, Buehler JW. The impact of law on syndromic disease surveillance implementation. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2018;24(1):9–17.
3. Whitney EA, Blake S, Berkelman RL. Implementation of a Legionella Ordinance for Multifamily Housing, Garland, Texas. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2017;23(6):601–607.
4. Chaudhuri SN, Broekemeier M, Butler C, et al Four corners states biomonitoring consortium: lessons learned during implementation. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2017;23(suppl 5):S93–S96.
5. Brownson RC, Eyler AA, Harris JK, Moore JB, Tabak RG. Getting the word out: new approaches for disseminating public health science. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2018;24(2):102–111.
6. Lee AF, Quade T, Dwinnells R. Evolution of the Academic Health Department through public health academic and practice collaborations. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2014;20(3):290–296.
7. Moore JB, Maddock JE, Brownson RC. The role of dissemination in promotion and tenure for public health. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2018;24(1):1–3.
8. Rowitz L. Linkages between academics and practice leadership development in public health. J Public Health Manag Pract. 1995;1(1):100–102.