Public health draws from a range of academic disciplines, social, medical and statistical, and answers questions relevant to improving the health of populations. We have initiated a Europe-wide study, Strengthening Public Health Research in Europe, to assess the development and use of public health research in both public policy and local decision making. The contemporary challenge for public health research is to integrate the capabilities of different academic disciplines to address policies for health. We have considered the development of public health research in five fields: political epidemiology, community health, health services, economics, and evaluation evidence and synthesis. The organisation and funding of research in Europe should be able to support new research fields and issues, to contribute to policy development and public health practice.
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Competing interests: At the time of production of this paper, AC, MMcC and PG are funded to undertake research for the SPHERE programme, funded by the European Union DG Research Sixth Framework Programme (EU FP6) and as described in the SPHERE project website (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/public-health/sphere). CÁ-D, WG, SS and PG were provided with an honorarium from the SPHERE project for their contributions to the paper.