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Improving public health emergency preparedness is at the top of the national agenda, but the lack of frequent opportunities to observe and learn from real-world responses to large-scale public health emergencies has hindered the development of an adequate evidence base. As a result, efforts to develop performance measures and standards, best practices, program guidance, training, and other tools have proceeded without a strong empirical and analytical basis. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response asked RAND to facilitate the development of a public health systems research agenda for emergency preparedness, identify short- and long-term research priorities, and provide a basis for coordinating funders and researchers inside and outside the federal government. In response, RAND convened a panel of 13 experts representing a diverse range of perspectives. The panelists identified 20 research priorities and illustrative research questions in areas related to planning, response, resources and infrastructure, and accountability and improvement. Preparations for the panel discussion included an extensive literature review of peer-reviewed sources and statutes, policies, and other government and organizational reports.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two


  • Chapter Three

    Research Priorities Related to Planning and Other Pre-Incident Activities

  • Chapter Four

    Research Priorities Related to Key response Capabilities

  • Chapter Five

    Research Priorities Related to Infrastructure, Resources, and Legal Frameworks

  • Chapter Six

    Research Priorities Related to Accountability and Quality Improvement

  • Chapter Seven


  • Appendix A

    Expert Panel

  • Appendix B

    Developing the Research Agenda

  • Appendix C

    Literature Review

  • Appendix D

    Peer-Reviewed Literature

  • Appendix E

    Summaries of Statutes, Policies, and Other Governmental or Organizational Reports Reviewed

  • Appendix F

    Data Abstraction Forms

The research described in this paper was prepared for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This research was conducted within the RAND Health Center for Public Health Preparedness.

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