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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 2: Brief History of Health Services Research (Page 3 of 40)

Health Services Research as Multidisciplinary Research

The field of health services research encompasses multiple disciplines far removed from the familiar territory of clinical medicine with its well-defined, concrete subject areas of etiology, prevention, diagnosis, pathophysiology, and treatment.

Health services research embraces the socioeconomic milieu of populations and asks broader questions than the health status of an individual.

Health Care Reform Issues

Those who followed the health care reform debates of the early 1990s can relate to many health services research issues. In this debate, people struggled over issues of universal coverage, equity, financing, and the cost of health care services. That national debate illuminated many of the economic and political forces concerned with health care such as:

  • health care consumers worried about access to, insurance coverage for, and the quality of health services
  • business owners concerned with paying for employees' health insurance while protecting profits
  • the government concerned about the costs and needs of vulnerable populations enrolled in its federal employee health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid programs
  • the insurance industry with its need to sell premiums and control costs
  • clinicians and providers eager to advocate for patients, preserve autonomy over medical decisions, and maximize reimbursement rates

View Key Projects and Milestones in Health Services Research.

Discussion Questions

  1. Does it make it easier or more difficult to understand health services research because it encompasses multiple disciplines?
  2. Discuss why business owners are concerned about health care. How does concern by business owners get translated into policy and into research?
  3. Describe why national health insurance is or is not important in maintaining the health of the public.
  4. Discuss why society should be concerned with providing health care to its most vulnerable populations.
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