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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 8 of 40)

The Developing Field of Health Services Research

The field that would become health services research continued to develop in the early twentieth century, both in the United States and in Europe.

Health Services Research pre-WWI

The various faces of disease and public health. Click for a larger view.Health services research conducted before World War I described the impact of disease on society. Studies included the Report on National Vitality (1909), the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company's sickness surveys, and numerous state commission studies on social and health insurance.

Healthcare Providers

Other early studies investigated the roles of health professionals.

The woman standing beside the breastfeeding woman is presumed to be a midwife. Click to view a larger version of the image.In 1908, the Chicago Medical Society and Hull House sponsored a birth record survey to document the role of midwifery in childbirth.

 

American Medical Association (AMA)

In 1919 the AMA collected data on the characteristics and distribution of hospitals (Flook, 1973). The AMA found that few hospitals met the minimum standards, about a third held regular medical staff meetings and less than half kept medical records. The report was not met with enthusiasm.

View Key Projects and Milestones in Health Services Research.

Discussion Questions

  1. How important to the work that hospital librarians do now is the AMA's collection of data on the characteristics and distribution of hospitals? If you agree that the data is important, discuss how this data is used by librarians, researchers and students.
  2. Have early studies (e.g. report on National Vitality, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company's sickness surveys) had any effect on health services research today?
  3. Were the AMA’s first survey findings on hospitals surprising? (We know the results of the survey were burned). Would you have burned the survey results?
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