Background, Mission and Strategic Actions of the Institute

The Institute has existed in various organizational forms since 1984, adopting its current name and structure as the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute in 2005. The Institute’s work is led by a team of experts well-recognized in their fields, and is guided by an active Advisory Board of policy and practice leaders, and an Executive Committee of faculty. The Institute is closely linked with the Department of Population Heath Sciences, and is a member of the National Network of Public Health Institutes.

Mission:  We accelerate capacity to create equitable conditions for everyone to be healthy by advancing knowledge, practice, policy and system change across sectors.

The UW Population Health Institute advances health and well-being for all by developing and evaluating interventions and promoting evidence-based approaches to policy and practice at the local, state, and national levels. The Institute works across the full spectrum of factors that contribute to health.

A focal point for health and health care dialogue within the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a convener of stakeholders, the Institute promotes an exchange of expertise between those within the university and those in the policy and practice arena.

Our goals are to:

  • Address a broad range of real-world, health-related problems of topical interest and stakeholder relevance;
  • Promote partnerships between researchers and users of research, encouraging collaboration between the academic community and those engaged in practice and policy within both the public and private sectors;
  • Evaluate programs and policies to support quality improvement, promote accountability, and seek evidenced-based solutions;
  • Build the knowledge base of effective programs and policies;
  • Provide learning opportunities for practitioners and students; and
  • Contribute to policy decisions and program implementations that improve health and well-being for all.

Research Informs Practice; Practice Informs Research

Partners and Stakeholders: Public health departments, business leaders, educators, philanthropy and investors, advocates, government (tribal, state, local), health care providers, purchasers, and payers, and the general public.

Products: Original research, community engaged programming and training, reports, searchable databases, issue briefs, program evaluations, webinars, briefings and conferences.

Major Programs and Products

  • County Health Rankings & Roadmaps
     The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program helps communities identify and implement solutions that make it easier for people to be healthy in their homes, schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods. Ranking the health of nearly every county in the nation, the County Health Rankings illustrate what we know when it comes to what is making people sick or healthy. The Roadmaps show what we can do to create healthier places to live, learn, work, and play. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) collaborates with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI) to bring this program to towns, cities, and counties across the nation.
  • Evaluation Research
    The Evaluation Research group works in partnership with community, tribal, university, and governmental organizations through the development, implementation, and evaluation stages of their programs. Our projects focus on substance abuse prevention and treatment; maternal and child health; school-based health; correctional health; and related areas. We use a broad range of methods, from qualitative and descriptive techniques to complex experimental and quasi-experimental trials. We also engage in rigorous intervention research design and evaluation.
  • Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health
    The MATCH group focuses on assessing population health and working with communities to help them a) identify opportunities for improving community health and b) find and implement evidence-based programs and policies to address these issues. We provide a variety of tools and resources to assist communities in Wisconsin and throughout the United States.

Our North Star

University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute will become a national leader in health equity scholarship and practice. We aim to shift understanding of the drivers of health equity and equip people with tools and resources to build equitable systems, structures and policies.

Population Health and Equity Research

Advance the field with a Population Health and Equity Research Agenda (PHERA) that brings science, evidence and conceptual frameworks into a new era by bringing community priorities to the forefront, addressing the complexity of historical context, power dynamics and identities in shaping health and equity.

3 Year Impacts: Through PHERA, we contribute to changing how people see the world, including drivers of health equity and evidence for action.

Motivate Funders Toward Equitable Investments

Motivate a broad range of investors to advance the equitable stewardship of their resources.

3 Year Impact: Be viewed as a leader by local, state, regional and national investors and translate that into an increased diversity of investors, including for groundbreaking (and therefore higher-risk) projects.

Partnerships for Action

Build, strengthen, and align partnerships to advance strategies that shape new narratives and action, and increase collective accountability.

3 Year Impact: With our diverse partners, we share an analysis of how to advance equity and a commitment to sustained partnership with demonstrated actions.

Advancing a Health and Racial Equity Narrative

Cultivate strong narratives and strategic communications to name what it takes to achieve health equity.

3 Year Impact: Health equity values and narratives begin to influence policy decisions and key messages. Centering the voices of those most impacted, narratives are taken up across geographies, organizations and policymakers.

Organizational Capacity Building

Commit to becoming a racially equitable, inclusive organization, joining and supporting other organizations to their journey.

3 Year Impact: Our staffing and organization are better positioned in composition, capacity and experience, to advance equity. Our staff experience meaning and a sense of accomplishment in what they do and enjoy working at the UW Population Health Institute.