Call for Papers

Theme Issue: Drivers of Health

Sponsored by: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Submission deadline:  August 12, 2019

Health Services Research (HSR) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are partnering to publish a Theme Issue on Drivers of Health, to be co-edited by Austin Frakt, PhD, and David Nerenz, PhD

To assess what is known and knowable about the drivers of health, RWJF has sponsored a project with three aims: (1) to assess the literature on the social determinants and health system factors that affect health; (2) to assess the literature on the effect of interventions for specific social determinants or health care system changes on health; and (3) to identify potential directions for future research on these topics.

In parallel to this project, HSR will publish a Theme Issue on cutting-edge work on the drivers of health and social/health care system interventions that promote health. For this Theme Issue, we invite studies, evaluations, and policy analyses that use rigorous scientific research methods to illuminate the causal relationships between social and health care system factors that affect health outcomes, including mortality, as well as broader measures of quality of life and well-being. We encourage work from a variety of disciplines, including health services research, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health, sociology, social work, economics, political science, anthropology, history of science, and others. We also encourage work that cuts across disease categories or focuses on very prevalent, high-impact diseases. Although we will consider work focused on populations and programs outside the United States, we encourage authors to apply lessons learned to the United States and potential implications for United States health care or social policy.

All papers must pertain to drivers of health outcomes and must report the results of original research. Papers that are opinion pieces or reviews will not be considered; the issue may include a framework/review paper and/or a summary/commentary, but these would be solicited separately from selected authors. We strongly encourage cutting-edge research that opens up new frontiers in the study of drivers of health and that delineates key questions that can be addressed in future investigation.

Illustrative examples of topics within the area of drivers of health include but are not limited to:

  • Interventions on social determinants or social needs (e.g., housing or education)
  • Health system changes (e.g., that promote coverage, access, adherence, etc.)
  • Effects of health care across the income spectrum or by racial/ethnic classifications
  • Quantitative assessments of the relative impact of health care vs. social determinants
  • Cost-effectiveness of interventions in health care and/or social needs
  • Impact of policies (at any level of government or health system) on improvements in health
  • Causal estimates of social determinants on health outcomes

The deadline for initial submission of abstracts is August 12, 2019. Abstracts may not exceed 300 words and must otherwise be formatted as indicated on the ninth page of the “Instructions for Authors” file. These abstracts will be evaluated by a multidisciplinary review panel, which will prioritize the best abstracts to receive invitations to submit full manuscripts. The evaluation criteria will include: (1) quality, rigor and originality, (2) significance and usefulness for informing investments in health and/or social determinants; and (3) clarity of writing and presentation.

Manuscripts submitted for the Theme Issue will first undergo the same HSR peer review process as all regular manuscripts. However, due to the timeline for publishing the Theme Issue, HSR will monitor the progress of manuscripts through the review process and thereby will try to shorten the overall review process; likewise, authors should expect to be especially prompt in returning revisions. All accepted articles will be published electronically within a few weeks of acceptance using Wiley’s Early View process. Articles published through Early View are fully published, appear in PubMed, and can be cited. Approximately 8 to 10 articles will be selected, based on the most original and significant work addressing the theme. Accepted manuscripts that are not selected for the Theme Issue will be automatically scheduled for print publication in a regular issue. The print publication date for the Theme Issue will be June 2020.

Key dates for authors:

August 12, 2019: Submission deadline for abstracts for the Theme Issue
September 6, 2019: Notification of manuscript invitation for Theme Issue
November 15, 2019: Submission deadline of manuscripts for the Theme Issue.
May 15, 2020: Notification of assignment of accepted manuscripts to the Theme Issue or Regular Issue.
June, 2020: Print Publication Date for Theme Issue.

If you would like to submit your abstract for consideration, please email your abstract and co-author contact information to the editorial office at