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National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

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Introduction to Health Services Research : A Self-Study Course

Module 1: What is Health Services Research (HSR)? (Page 3 of 11)

Essential Concepts

This page provides key concepts from this module. It is intended to be a synopsis of the content in the module.

  • Researchers, the public, payers, and politicians ask questions that shape public policy. These questions change over time.
  • Health services research attempts to answer people's questions about the best medical treatment or preventive course of action, quality of a health care plan or a doctor's practice, efficient delivery of services to all populations, and the cost exacted to provide them.
  • Health services researchers investigate three major aspects of health care: access to care, the quality of the care, and its cost.
  • Health services researchers attempt to evaluate the effects and outcomes of the health care "system" on people's health.
  • The Institute of Medicine identified the major issues that health services researchers continue to address today. This list captures the critical issues health professionals and the public face as corporate and governmental bodies transform health services and institutions. These include
    • Organization and financing of health services.
    • Access to health care.
    • Practitioner, patient, and consumer behavior.
    • Quality of care.
    • Clinical evaluation and outcomes research.
    • Informatics and clinical decision-making.
    • Health professions work force.
  • Several definitions of health services research have been written over time to reflect advances in thinking and the discipline. (They have been brought together in one place so that you can see the similarities and differences among them. Look for those definitions further on in this module).
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