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Types of Articles

The following are brief descriptions of articles published by Preventing Chronic Disease (PCD). Prospective authors should review the manuscript checklists provided for each category. These checklists present the criteria by which peer reviewers judge whether to recommend publishing an article.

 

Original Research

Peer Reviewed

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These articles present research results to a broad audience of public health professionals, and topics cover areas relevant for public health practice and research. They explain the value of the research to public health and the relevance of the findings to chronic disease prevention.

We welcome articles from many disciplines as long as research results pertain to preventing or reducing the effects of chronic disease. Examples of topics of interest include:

  • Identifying geographic disparities in chronic disease mortality in local communities, counties, states, regions, or countries
  • An examination of how experiences of discrimination (eg, race or ethnicity, sex or gender, age, ability) affect health behaviors or chronic disease risks
  • The effect of a physical activity program on cardiovascular, strength, and mobility outcomes among adults aged 55 or older
  • Increasing colorectal cancer screening in health care systems using evidence-based interventions
  • A randomized trial of a behavioral intervention to reduce the effects of diabetes
  • An examination of a program to increase awareness of signs and symptoms of stroke
  • A focus group analysis of older adult perspectives on community engagement and participation among people with cognitive decline
  • A surveillance report analyzing systematically or continuously collected health-related data
  • Epidemiologic trends (prevalence, disparities, time-varying relationships) in health outcomes related to chronic disease such as substance abuse and mental health
  • Psychosocial and behavioral risk profiles of cigarette smoking and e-cigarette use among adolescents

Articles that report results of randomized controlled trials must conform to the standards of the CONSORT statement (www.consort-statement.orgexternal icon). In addition, all randomized controlled trials described in an original research article must be registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (http://clinicaltrials.govexternal icon).

Abstract: Use the following subheadings in the abstract: Introduction, Methods, Results, Conclusion.

Main Text: Use the following subheadings in the main text of the manuscript: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion. Use active voice whenever possible.

Introduction 
Explain the context of the study and the importance of the study question. State the precise objective of the study in the final paragraph. If more than 1 objective is addressed, state the main objective and note only key secondary objectives. Provide a brief literature review to identify gaps in knowledge on the study topic and show how the study will add to what is already known. Define terms specific to the context of the manuscript. This section should be no longer than 2 or 3 paragraphs or 300 words.

Methods
Use active voice. State and describe the type of study design or analysis used. Provide the dates of the study. Include a statement on institutional review board review and approval or waiver or exemption. Describe the condition, factors, or diseases studied. Provide details on the sample and the setting from which they were drawn (eg, general community, school, hospital, worksite). Describe recruitment of study participants, sampling procedures, and inclusion and exclusion criteria. Comment on how sample size was determined, and report the prestudy calculation of the required sample size, if applicable. If the study describes an intervention, describe its essential features. Note all outcomes and measures of observation. In the final section, describe statistical methods. Note any tests conducted (eg, t tests, χ2 tests). Name the statistical software used, and report the level at which significance was established. Finally, per the AMA Manual of Style, “for all RCTs, a detailed power statement addressing the number of patients in each group needed to obtain a prespecified outcome” is required.

Results
Results should be specific and relevant to the research hypothesis, research question, or study aim stated in the Introduction. All results reported should correspond to a section in the Methods. First present characteristics of the study participants (eg, number, age distribution, sex, racial and ethnic characteristics). Report the primary outcomes of the study, followed by any secondary outcomes. Give measures of data distribution or precision (eg, SDs, 95% CIs, SEs). All primary outcomes or findings must be reported in the text or provided in tables; they should not be represented graphically only in figures. Tables and figures should be used judiciously to present data and support assertions in the text. Refer to all tables and figures in the text. Provide adequate detail in titles, legends, and footnotes to enable readers to understand the information in tables and figures without referring to the text.

Discussion
Address the hypothesis, research question, or study aim and objectively evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the study. Give equal emphasis to positive and negative findings of equal scientific merit. Avoid a lengthy reiteration of the Results section. Compare and contrast study findings with findings of similar studies. Mention unexpected findings and suggest explanations. Discuss the limitations of the study. Discuss the generalizability of the results and the implications of the study for public health, but avoid speculation and overgeneralization. If appropriate, suggest future potential studies. End this section with a clear, concise conclusion that is directly supported by the study findings.

Abstract: structured, ≤250 words
Main Text: ≤3,500 words
References: ≤30
Tables/Figures: ≤5 total (any combination of tables and figures)
Summary Box: In 1 or 2 sentences for each, answer the following questions: What is already known on this topic? What is added by this report? What are the implications for public health practice? These answers present the article’s key public health message as well as justification for publication. Maximum length for the 3 answers is 100 words.
Visual Abstract: Publications are chosen for visual abstracts at the discretion of the PCD editor in chief. If your publication is chosen you will receive an email requesting a visual abstract to accompany your published article with additional instructions and guidelines.

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GIS Snapshots

Peer Reviewed

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Submissions in this category may include one or more maps that describe chronic disease outcomes, risk factors, or relevant community characteristics, policies, or programs. We welcome submissions that address a broad range of chronic disease conditions and can be used in a wide range of settings (eg, access to care, policy and program development).

Previous GIS Snapshots are archived here.

Maps may include a single layer or multiple layers of data. Maps should be easy to comprehend and visually appealing and should adhere to contemporary cartographic standards in color scheme, symbols, geographic coordinate systems, projections, and cartographic design. Cite GIS and spatial statistics software used (eg, ArcGIS, QGIS, Tableau, Geoda, R, Stata).

PCD’s associate editors and editorial board members with expertise in GIS recommend the following resources for guidance on creating the best maps for publication:

PCD editors will work with authors to ensure that maps adhere to standards of the AMA Manual of Style.

Graphics Requirements

Maps should fit a standard 8.5 x 11–inch page in portrait layout. PCD requires 2 files for each map. One file should be in vector format; this is the file that our graphic designer will work with to make changes to the map according to AMA style, as directed by PCD editors. Generally, the designer will not touch the map itself but will be asked to make changes in the periphery of the map (for example, the key).

1. Vector

  • .eps
  • .ai
  • .pdf

If the map is provided only in .eps format or only in .ai format, a .pdf format must also be submitted. Editors cannot open .eps or .ai files, but they can open and view .pdf files. Make sure that all fonts are embedded, polygons are converted to vector, and any raster images are set to maximum quality. These options are located in the export menu in ArcGIS.

2. Bitmap

  • 600-dpi .tif
  • 3,000-px wide .png or .jpg

Make sure that all .jpg files are set to maximum quality.

Abstract: None

Main Text: In addition to the map, submissions should include the following 5 sections of text: Map Caption, Background, Data and Methods, Highlights, and Action.

Map Legend

Each map should have a legend (also known as a caption). The legend should consist of no more than 75 words that summarize the main messages of the map and their importance; for example, indicate how the information can be used or how the information adds to our understanding of the geographic distribution of the chronic condition being discussed. The legend text should mirror the action statements or the statement of purpose in the narrative rather than the methods. The legend will appear directly beneath the map. Data sources should be documented in the figure legend, not on the map; each data source cited should be included in the list of references. Each map and its accompanying legend should be able to stand independently without explanation from the text.

Alternative Text for the Visually Impaired

Authors are asked to provide alternative text for the visually impaired as part of their manuscript submission. Alternative text is required for all images published by the journal. We create a separate web page for this information as part of the manuscript production process; a line at the end of the figure legend directs the reader to the separate web page through a hyperlink (for example, the hyperlink will say, “A tabular version of this figure is available.”). Alternative text can consist of text that describes the main features of the map and what they signify or it can provide information in tabular format (for example, prevalence rates by state are easily provided as a table). Examples of alternative text can be found by searching GIS articles on PCD’s website and looking for the hyperlinked note at the end of the legend.

Background
Introduce the subject of the map. State what the map describes and discuss why the topic is important in the context of chronic disease prevention. Include references if appropriate. Include a brief statement of purpose. For example, was the map created to

  • Illustrate a scientific finding
  • Visualize health data in a new way
  • Explore the geographic patterns of a new data set
  • Demonstrate the work product from a public health campaign
  • Highlight the existence of a new GIS project in a health department or other organization

Data and Methods
Provide a brief overview of the methods, including data sources used to create the map, a short description of any data analyses performed, and the mapping techniques employed.

Highlights
Describe the main findings the maps present and their importance.

Action
Describe ways in which the maps can or will be used to prevent chronic disease (eg, to inform decision making on policies or programs, facilitate partnerships with relevant organizations, educate the public) or add to the understanding of the geographic distribution of the condition.

Abstract: none
Main Text:
≤1,000 words
References: ≤15
Tables/Figures: ≤1 (1 table or 1 non-map figure [eg, graph, chart, photograph])
Summary Box: none
Visual Abstract: Publications are chosen for visual abstracts at the discretion of the PCD editor in chief. If your publication is chosen you will receive an email requesting a visual abstract to accompany your published article with additional instructions and guidelines.

 

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 Program Evaluation Brief

Peer Reviewed

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Program Evaluation Briefs are short articles that focus on understanding how various aspects of public health activities related to program implementation, program performance, health policy, or systems change influence health outcomes. These articles recognize that public health programs offer important and timely opportunities to improve public health in diverse settings (eg, schools, worksites, health care, communities, places of worship). Programs (also referred to as public health, school, workplace, community, or clinical interventions) are often collaborative, multifaceted, multicomponent, and multisite with diverse participants and partnerships. As such, evaluations must frequently be multimodal, multicomponent, and sensitive to context (eg, participant characteristics, setting characteristics, economic and social factors, staffing availability, staffing capacity, organizational support, organizational change, fiscal resources).

All Program Evaluation Briefs must present findings generated from qualitative designs (eg, narrative, phenomenological, grounded theory, ethnographic), quantitative designs (eg, quasi-experimental, experimental, observational, survey, electronic health record–based), or mixed methods (both qualitative and quantitative), which are especially important in the absence of a randomized controlled trial to assess how and why the contexts and conditions of the intervention were or were not successful.

Program Evaluation Briefs must clearly indicate whether the evaluation is

  • a design evaluation (helps to define the scope of a program or project and to identify appropriate goals and objectives)
  • a process evaluation (assesses whether a program or process is implemented as designed or operating as intended and identifies opportunities for improvement)
  • an outcome evaluation (examines the intended and unintended results of a program)
  • an impact evaluation (assesses the causal link between program activities and outcomes)

A process evaluation often describes a program’s services, activities, policies, and procedures. It can also provide feedback as to whether the program was implemented as intended (according to the theory of change), what barriers were encountered, and why outcomes were or were not achieved. An outcome evaluation measures program effects in the intended population by assessing the progress in the outcomes that the program addresses. It could describe changes in conditions that are holding problems in place, the enrollment or retention of a medically underserved population, uptake of new app by assessing hits, or description of feedback from an event by participants. An outcome evaluation needs to provide a description of the entire environment to avoid overlooking contextual factors.

The following are examples of evaluation questions:

  1. What were lessons learned in developing (or implementing) the program that could be applied to other interdisciplinary initiatives? (process evaluation)
  2. How successful is the program in accomplishing its short-term goals? (outcome evaluation)
  3. How well is the program aligned with the needs of the community? (outcome evaluation)

Examples of topics of interest are

  • What intentional actions were taken to improve health equity and how well these strategies worked
  • Whether a program, policy, or systems change had an impact on improving its reach and access to its intended population
  • Whether an initiative produced changes to investment, policy, or practice that will enable changes in the quality and quantity of programs and services, connections, infrastructure, or scale
  • How well a program was implemented or aligned with the theory of change
  • Drivers and barriers surrounding program implementation, outcomes, or sustainability, in particular how they may have varied by site or location
  • Potential areas for improvement that increase a program’s efficacy and cost effectiveness
  • Whether and how a program, policy, or system change could be expanded to other settings, geographic areas, and populations facing similar public health challenges
  • Which evaluation efforts were effectively employed during different program phases such as program planning, implementation, completion, dissemination, and reporting
  • How well the program/interventions were executed, including recruitment, randomization, and blinding
  • Ease and efficiency of delivering and participating in the intervention/program, including attendance, retention, and participant engagement
  • Participant satisfaction and reaction to the program

Priority will be given to manuscripts using evaluation approaches that address health equity, report findings in the aforementioned topic areas, or report the program’s impact on improving health outcomes in populations that are underrepresented or medically underserved. Manuscripts can share preliminary findings from reported evaluation efforts. PCD is also interested in learning about factors and circumstances that can help the field learn what did not work and why. Manuscripts will not be considered for this article type if they focus exclusively on the importance of coalitions, partnerships, or collaborations; describe programs or theoretical frameworks; or are literature reviews, opinion pieces, commentaries, or essays.

Abstract: The unstructured abstract has no more 250 words corresponding to the subheadings in the main text: Introduction, Purpose and Objectives, Intervention Approach, Evaluation Methods, Results, and Implications for Public Health.

Main Text: The subheadings in the main text are Introduction, Purpose and Objectives, Intervention Approach, Evaluation Methods, Results, and Implications for Public Health.

Introduction
Describe the public health concern of interest that the intervention is designed to address. The concern can address one or a combination of the following: chronic disease, health behaviors, structural and environmental supports, policy changes, and health system changes.

The introduction should provide the following information:

  • Purpose and rationale for selecting the evaluation method, including literature support and the circumstances under which the implementation and evaluation activities occurred
  • Partnerships and project staff critical in conceptualizing, implementing, and evaluating this effort
  • Intervention period during which reported activities were implemented and evaluated
  • Information on when data collection was initiated and completed
  • Details on how program implementation opportunities and benefits were equitably distributed
  • Unit of measure (eg, individual, place) and reason for choosing unit of measure

Purpose and Objectives
Describe the intervention and how it may have improved health outcomes. Describe how the implementation and evaluation were planned. Describe the intervention — whether it was an adopted or modified intervention from previous efforts or newly developed and not previously evaluated. Program planning must 1) be evidence-driven, 2) be based on some form of pre-implementation assessment to determine priority areas, and 3) describe strategies to address needs and identify factors that shaped implementation of the intervention. State the objectives or evaluation questions for the intervention (eg, How were interested parties engaged? What process was used to identify and measure outcomes?). Present relevant characteristics of the study setting and population in which the intervention was conducted or evaluated. Setting characteristics may include staff capacity, evaluation expertise, securing support, intervention fidelity, and human and fiscal resources.

Intervention Approach
Intervention approach is defined as a combination of actions taken to address a set of factors necessary to improve population health. Describe the approach used to frame the overall work described in the article. The approach must be supported by insights derived from published literature and current data on prevalence of the condition. Clearly delineate the assumptions underlying the intervention. Link the intervention approach directly to the evaluation methods used and the results reported (outcomes, measures, indicators). If desired, use a figure or diagram to illustrate the relationship between the public health concern and the contextual factors influencing health and intervention efforts, intervention components, essential partnerships, evaluation approach, and outcomes of interest.

Evaluation Approach
Provide a rationale and describe the process used in selecting the evaluation methods described in the article. The rationale may include participation rates, data collection approaches, availability of qualitative and quantitative data, frequency of data collection, and outcomes.

Describe the evaluation method and evaluation design used to conduct the evaluation. If quantitative methods were used, describe in detail the quantitative data measurements used. Different evaluation methods could have been used at different stages for different components of an intervention. Authors should ensure that the links between the intervention components discussed and the evaluation approaches demonstrate alignment with the outcomes reported in the article.

Include a statement on institutional review board review and approval or waiver or exemption. If appropriate, authors should provide the participation rate in terms of a numerator and a denominator. Authors should report pre-evaluation calculation of required sample size. Provide the significance level established for quantitative data. Evaluators using qualitative methods should justify why the number of participants being reported adds credibility to reported findings. Identify the qualitative or quantitative statistical software used.

Results
Concisely describe characteristics of study participants (eg, number of participants, age distribution, sex, racial and ethnic characteristics, geographic location). Results should be specific and relevant to all objectives and evaluation questions. All results reported should align with information presented in all other sections of the article. Use tables and figures to support linkages between intervention activities, findings, and recommendations. Results should aid in the understanding of the factors in real-world settings that influence how intervention efforts are delivered.

Implications for Public Health
Address all objectives and evaluation questions and objectively assess the strengths and weaknesses of the evaluation. Give equal emphasis to positive and negative findings of equal technical, methodologic, and scientific merit. Share information that would help readers ascertain what evaluators learned that would shape refinement of the intervention. Share insights on how the evaluation approach could be improved. Discuss ways that readers can facilitate diffusion and uptake of a similar evidence-based intervention in comparable real-world settings.

Abstract: unstructured, ≤250 words
Main Text: ≤2,000 words
References: ≤15
Tables/Figures: ≤2 total (2 tables, 2 figures, or 1 table/1 figure)
Summary Box: In 1 or 2 sentences for each, answer the following questions: What is already known on this topic? What is added by this report? What are the implications for public health practice? These answers present the article’s key public health message as well as justification for publication. Maximum length for the 3 answers is 100 words.
Visual Abstract: Publications are chosen for visual abstracts at the discretion of the PCD editor in chief. If your publication is chosen you will receive an email requesting a visual abstract to accompany your published article with additional instructions and guidelines.

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Implementation Evaluation

Peer Reviewed

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Implementation Evaluation articles provide information to program planners, policy makers, evaluators, researchers, and other interested parties on how to refine evaluation methods; make health system improvements; strengthen collaborations and partnerships; build organizational infrastructure; measure return on investments; and enhance data collection approaches. These articles provide insights into factors that affect the ability of public health practice to successfully package and disseminate effective interventions that have been implemented and evaluated in real-world settings. Although successful intervention efforts are important, PCD is also interested in learning about factors and circumstances that did not work and why.

All Implementation Evaluation articles must present findings generated from qualitative methods (eg, focus groups, interviews), quantitative methods (eg, quasi-experimental, experimental), or mixed methods (both qualitative and quantitative). Evaluation studies could also explore economic analyses focusing on cost, cost-effectiveness, return on investment, and cost versus benefit. Priority will be given to articles that use evaluation approaches that report health outcomes. Articles will not be considered in this category if they focus on program or theoretical framework descriptions, literature reviews, opinion pieces, commentaries, or essays. Examples of topics of interest include

  • Cost-effectiveness of clinical and community lifestyle interventions to improve preventive health care visits among older adults
  • Factors influencing regional diffusion of an effective fruit and vegetable prescription program on children’s fruit and vegetable consumption
  • Communitywide collaboration to promote early adoption of evidence-based strategies to reduce cardiovascular disease risk among adults living with diabetes

Abstract: Use the following 5 subheadings in the structured abstract: Purpose and Objectives, Intervention Approach, Evaluation Methods, Results, and Implications for Public Health.

Main Text: The 6 subheadings in the main text are Introduction, Purpose and Objectives, Intervention Approach, Evaluation Methods, Results, and Implications for Public Health.

Introduction 
Describe the public health concern that the intervention is designed to address. The concern can focus on one or a combination of the following: chronic disease, health behaviors, structural and environmental supports, policy changes, and health system changes.

The introduction must provide the following information:

  • Purpose and rationale for selecting the evaluation method, including literature support and the circumstances under which the implementation and evaluation activities occurred
  • Partnerships and project staff critical in conceptualizing, implementing, and evaluating this effort
  • Intervention period during which reported activities were implemented and evaluated. Authors should include information on when data collection was initiated and completed.

Purpose and Objectives

Program planning must be evidence-driven, based on some form of pre-implementation assessment to determine priority areas, and use evidence-based strategies to address needs and identify factors that shaped implementation of the intervention. Describe the intervention — whether it was adapted or modified from previous efforts or newly developed and not previously evaluated. Describe how the implementation and evaluation were planned. State the objectives or evaluation questions for the intervention (eg, how interested parties were engaged, processes that were used to identify and measure outcomes).

Intervention Approach
Intervention approach is defined as the combination of actions taken to address a set of factors necessary to improve population health. The description should clearly delineate the assumptions underlying the intervention. Innovative approaches are welcomed; however, authors are still required to provide justification or rationale for their creation. Describe the approach used to frame the overall work described in the article. Clearly delineate the assumptions underlying the intervention. Present the intervention approach (often referred to as a program model, logic framework, or guiding theory) to show readers the importance of the intervention, the components constituting the intervention, the health outcomes, and the selected evaluation methods. Describe how other relevant information was used to develop the intervention approach, if such information is available and relevant (eg, demographic shifts, geographic factors, setting attributes, economic factors, needs assessments, capacity-building needs, community input, pilot studies). If desired, use a figure or diagram to illustrate the relationship between the public health concern and the contextual factors influencing health and intervention efforts, intervention components, essential partnerships, evaluation approach, and outcomes of interest.

Evaluation Methods
Evaluation methods could have been used at different stages for different components of an intervention. The rationale for evaluation method selection may include participation rates, data collection approaches, availability of qualitative and quantitative data, frequency of data collection, outcomes, and with whom evaluation findings will be or have been shared. It is critically important that authors describe how selected outcomes (measures or indicators) reliably capture the success or failure of the intervention. Describe the method and design used to conduct the evaluation. Provide a rationale and describe the process used in selecting the evaluation methods described in the article.

Authors should ensure that the links between the intervention components discussed and the evaluation approaches demonstrate alignment with the outcomes reported in the article.

Include a statement on institutional review board review and approval or waiver or exemption. Provide the participation rate in terms of a numerator and a denominator. Report pre-evaluation calculation of the required sample size when applicable. Provide the significance level established for quantitative data. Evaluators using qualitative methods should justify why the number of participants reported adds credibility to reported findings. Identify any statistical software used.

Results
Results should align with information presented in all other sections of the article (ie, the objectives should be addressed and/or evaluation questions should be answered). Results should aid in the understanding of factors that influence how interventions are delivered. Describe the characteristics of the study participants (eg, number of participants, age distribution, sex/gender, race and ethnicity). If describing qualitative findings, provide quotes from participants. Use tables and figures to support linkages between intervention activities, findings, and recommendations.

Implications for Public Health
This section is a place to discuss the study’s findings, but more emphasis is placed on translation than in original research articles. Address the evaluation’s objectives and questions and objectively assess its strengths and weaknesses. Give equal emphasis to positive and negative findings of equal technical, methodologic, and scientific merit. Delineate ways that the reported evaluation findings can be used by others to increase implementation fidelity and improve population health in real-world settings with similar contextual factors. Share information that would help readers ascertain what evaluators learned that could refine the intervention. Share insights on how the evaluation approach could be improved. Discuss ways that readers can facilitate diffusion and uptake of a similar evidence-based intervention in a comparable real-world setting.

Abstract: structured, 300 words
Main Text: ≤4,500 words
References: ≤40
Tables: ≤5
Figures: ≤4
Summary Box: In 1 or 2 sentences for each, answer the following questions: What is already known on this topic? What is added by this report? What are the implications for public health practice? These answers present the article’s key public health message as well as justification for publication. Maximum length for the 3 answers is 100 words.
Visual Abstract: Publications are chosen for visual abstracts at the discretion of the PCD editor in chief. If your publication is chosen you will receive an email requesting a visual abstract to accompany your published article with additional instructions and guidelines.

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Research Brief

Peer Reviewed

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Research Briefs are a condensed version of PCD’s Original Research articles and present research results of interest to a broad audience of public health professionals. They explain the value of the described research to public health and the relevance of the findings to reducing or preventing chronic disease. We welcome articles from many disciplines as long as the research results pertain to preventing or reducing the effects of chronic disease. Research Briefs should have no more than 3 figures or 3 tables (or any combination of 3 items). The tables and figures should be well constructed, easy to comprehend, and visually appealing. Information in any tables or figures should not be duplicated in the text but should be consistent with it. Tables and figures should stand independently without requiring explanation from the text. We encourage the use of photographs, illustrations, newspaper clippings, short video or audio files (up to 5 minutes), multimedia, or other information that complements the article and that can be delivered or linked to via the web.

Abstract: The unstructured abstract should have no more than 4 sentences, each one corresponding to the subheadings in the main text: Objective, Methods, Results, Discussion.

Main Text: The subheadings in the main text are Objective, Methods, Results, Discussion.

Objective 
This section should be no more than 200 words. State clearly the main purpose of the research and the main hypothesis to be tested or the main question to be answered. Explain the context of the study and the importance of the study question. Provide definitions of terms specific to the context.

Methods
This section should be no more than 300 words. State the type of study design used. Provide the dates of study. For a study that describes an intervention, note the essential features of the intervention. Describe briefly the setting or populations from which the participants were drawn. Provide inclusion and exclusion criteria for participants. If the article describes research involving human subjects, include a statement that the research was approved by an institutional review board. Provide the participation rate in terms of a numerator and a denominator. Describe any controls used. Report the pre-study calculation of required sample size. Provide brief information on statistical methods.

Results
This section should be no more than 300 words. Report only the most relevant results and describe the main outcomes. Results should be specific and relevant to the research hypothesis. All results reported should have a corresponding section in the Methods section. Present key characteristics of study participants (eg, number, age distribution, sex, racial and ethnic characteristics). For surveys, provide the response rate; if response rate is not appropriate, provide the refusal rate. For calculations, use standards set forth by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (https://www.aapor.org/Standards-Ethics/Standard-Definitions-(1).aspxexternal icon). Give measures of data distribution or precision (eg, SD, 95% CI). Provide information on how study participants compare with people not included in the study. If validation measures are part of the study, describe them.

Discussion
This section should be no more than 400 words. Address the research question or hypothesis and note strengths and weaknesses of the study. Give equal emphasis to positive and negative findings of equal scientific merit. Avoid a lengthy reiteration of the Results section. Mention unexpected findings and suggest explanations. Note limitations of the study and generalizability of the results. If appropriate, suggest future potential studies, but avoid speculation and overgeneralization. End the section with a clear, concise conclusion that is directly supported by the study findings.

Abstract: unstructured, 100 words
Main Text:
≤1,200 words
References: ≤12
Tables/Figures: ≤3 (3 tables, 3 figures, or a combination of 3 items)
Summary Box: In 1 or 2 sentences for each, answer the following questions: What is already known on this topic? What is added by this report? What are the implications for public health practice? These answers present the article’s key public health message as well as justification for publication. Maximum length for the 3 answers is 100 words.
Visual Abstract: Publications are chosen for visual abstracts at the discretion of the PCD editor in chief. If your publication is chosen you will receive an email requesting a visual abstract to accompany your published article with additional instructions and guidelines.

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Tools for Public Health Practice

Peer Reviewed

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Note: Before submitting a manuscript under this article type, email a 1-paragraph summary to the editor in chief at PCDeditor@cdc.gov for consideration.

These articles provide instructional materials for professional development that focus on the practical application of public health methods. They are written as how-to articles. Sample topics are how to develop training modules, health communication tools, and logic models for program planning and evaluation; how to design and implement legal frameworks that can broaden the range of effective public health strategies; and how to use geographic information systems to assess environmental supports for physical activity.

The article should be instructional, showing readers how to apply a particular method or demonstrating approaches that can be used to enhance public health research, evaluation, and practice. The article should explain the public health context of the “tool” and provide definitions of terms specific to the article. The tool should be described in a way that allows others with sufficient skills and interest to use it. The strengths and weaknesses of the tool or technique should be objectively evaluated. If appropriate, provide information on how the tool was evaluated or how it could be evaluated to determine utility, application, or impact.

Tables, figures, and other graphics should be well constructed, easy to comprehend, and visually appealing. Information in tables, figures, and other graphics should not be duplicated in text but should be consistent with the information in the text. They should be able to stand independently without reference to the text. We encourage the use of photographs, illustrations, newspaper clippings, short video or audio files (up to 5 minutes), multimedia, or other information that complements the article and that can be delivered or linked to via the web. The article should include at least 3 headings in the body of the text; these headings must be unique to the article and should not follow the pattern of other PCD articles (ie, not Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion).

Abstract: unstructured, ≤250 words
Main Text:
≤3,000 words
References: ≤40
Tables: ≤3
Figures: ≤2
Summary Box: In 1 or 2 sentences for each, answer the following questions: What is already known on this topic? What is added by this report? What are the implications for public health practice? These answers present the article’s key public health message as well as justification for publication. Maximum length for the 3 answers is 100 words.
Visual Abstract: Publications are chosen for visual abstracts at the discretion of the PCD editor in chief. If your publication is chosen you will receive an email requesting a visual abstract to accompany your published article with additional instructions and guidelines.

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Systematic Review

Peer Reviewed

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Systematic Reviews provide systematic assessments of literature and data sources pertaining to PCD’s scope of interests. Authors should describe their methods for performing the review, including the ways information was searched for, selected, and summarized. Meta-analyses also will be considered as reviews. Scoping reviews do not meet the criteria for a systematic review. Tables, figures, and other graphics should be well constructed, easy to comprehend, and visually appealing. Information in tables, figures, and other graphics should not be duplicated in text but should be consistent with it. They should be able to stand independently without requiring reference to the text.

Abstract: Use the following subheadings in the Abstract: Introduction, Methods, Results, Conclusion.

Main Text: The headings in the main text are Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion.

Introduction 
State the review question and explain its importance. State the primary objective of the review. This section should be no more than 300 words.

Methods
The Methods section should include the following 3 subheadings: Data sources, Study selection, and Data extraction.

Data sources.
Describe the search strategy. Identify and succinctly summarize data sources. Define the study time frame (beginning and ending dates). Be sure to include the most current literature available in your search. The search should be conducted no more than several months before the manuscript is submitted. Consider all potential data sources, databases, and search engines. State the exact search terms used to identify and retrieve articles. Cite search constraints.

Study selection.
Describe inclusion and exclusion criteria for selecting studies for review. Provide details on the disease, population, intervention, methodologic design, or outcome being studied. State the method used to identify and apply inclusion and exclusion criteria. State the number or proportion of studies reviewed that met your selection criteria.

Data extraction.
Describe the guidelines used to extract data and assess data quality and validity. Provide information on how the guidelines were applied (eg, independent extraction by multiple observers). End this section with a description of how the data collected were analyzed.

Results
State the main results of the review in the first paragraph. All results should be well described, specific, and relevant to the review question. All results reported should have a corresponding section in the Methods section. For numerical results, give measures of data distribution or precision (eg, SD, 95% CI).

Discussion
Objectively evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the study. Give equal emphasis to positive and negative findings. Avoid a lengthy reiteration of the Results section. Compare and contrast study findings with findings of similar studies. Mention and explain unexpected findings. Discuss the limitations of the study and the generalizability of the results. Discuss implications for public health and, if appropriate, suggest potential future studies, but avoid speculation and overgeneralization. The section should end with a clear, concise conclusion that is directly supported by the study findings. The interpretation of the data should be limited to the domain of the review.

Abstract: structured, 300 words
Main Text:
≤3,500 words
References: no limit
Tables: ≤3
Figures: ≤2
Summary Box: In 1 or 2 sentences for each, answer the following questions: What is already known on this topic? What is added by this report? What are the implications for public health practice? These answers present the article’s key public health message as well as justification for publication. Maximum length for the 3 answers is 100 words.
Visual Abstract: Publications are chosen for visual abstracts at the discretion of the PCD editor in chief. If your publication is chosen you will receive an email requesting a visual abstract to accompany your published article with additional instructions and guidelines.

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Letter

Peer Reviewed

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Letters focus on the scientific, clinical, or ethical issues raised by an article previously published in PCD. Support your point of view with evidence and cite references to support your argument. Citations should be up to date and relevant. The letter should be written concisely and should be free of jargon. Letters require statements of authorship responsibility and disclosure of conflicts of interest. List authors and their affiliations at the end of the letter. Note that some indexing and abstracting services do not include letters in their databases. Tables, figures, and other graphics should be well constructed, easy to comprehend, and visually appealing. Information in tables, figures, and other graphics should not be duplicated in text but should be consistent with it. They should be able to stand independently without reference to the text. Letters will be edited for clarity, sense, and style. Authors review edits before publication and have the right to refuse publication after editorial revisions have been made. If warranted, the journal’s editorial staff will solicit a reply from the author of the corresponding article; both letter and reply may appear in the same issue.

Abstract: none
Main Text:
600 words
References: ≤6
Tables/Figures: ≤2 (2 tables, 2 figures, or 1 table/1 figure)
Summary Box: none

 

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Essay

Peer Reviewed

View Manuscript Checklist

Essays are opinion pieces that thoughtfully discuss contemporary issues in public health. Essays raise points of interest to researchers and practitioners, initiate or focus discussion, or propose a position or consensus statement. Essays can report on unusual cases or personal experiences. Reviews, methods, how-to articles, responses to published articles, and articles with a research or evaluation focus are not suitable as essays. Tables, figures, and other graphics should be well constructed, easy to comprehend, and visually appealing. Information in tables, figures, and other graphics should not be duplicated in the text but should be consistent with it. These items should be able to stand independently without reference to the text. We encourage the use of photographs, illustrations, newspaper clippings, short video or audio files (up to 5 minutes), multimedia, or other information that complements the article and that can be delivered or linked to via the web.

Abstract: none
Main Text:
≤1,500 words
References: ≤10
Tables/Figures: ≤1 (1 table or 1 figure)
Summary Box: none
Visual Abstract:
Publications are chosen for visual abstracts at the discretion of the PCD editor in chief. If your publication is chosen you will receive an email requesting a visual abstract to accompany your published article with additional instructions and guidelines.

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The opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors’ affiliated institutions.

Page last reviewed: April 6, 2022