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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 16 of 40)

Special Committees and Commissions

Committee on Medicine and the Changing Order

In 1943 a special Committee on Medicine and the Changing Order was established at the New York Academy of Medicine to make an intensive study of medical care in the United States.

The Committee commissioned a series of monographs on the major medical problems of the day, to be prepared by recognized experts in their respective fields. These monographs were published by the Commonwealth Fund and reflected the evolving concept of health services research.

American Hospital Association Commission on Hospital Care

In 1944, the American Hospital Association formed the Commission on Hospital Care to survey hospital needs. This was the first complete survey of American hospitals, and its results contributed to the construction of new hospitals with the support of federal funds.

Hill-Burton and Other Important Legislation

Image of the dedication ceremonies of the George H. Lanier Memorial Hospital, Langdale, Alabama. This was the first Hill0Burton hospital dedicated. Click to view a larger image. Congress passed the Hospital Survey and Construction (Hill-Burton) Act of 1946 which legislated the funding and conditions for expanded hospital construction throughout the U.S.; the National Mental Health Act (1946) which promoted research, training, and treatment centers in mental health; and the National Health Service Act (1946) which organized local health centers to provide health services.

The Hill-Burton (Hospital Survey and Construction) Act of 1946 authorized funds for the construction of new hospitals. This encouraged states to develop a planning structure for the allocation of these federal funds and greatly increased the number of hospitals and hospital beds.

The Hill-Burton (Hospital Survey and Construction) Act of 1946 authorized funds for the construction of new hospitals. This encouraged states to develop a planning structure for the allocation of these federal funds and greatly increased the number of hospitals and hospital beds.

Hill-Burton Amendments

In 1954, amendments to the Hill-Burton Act authorized funds for chronic care facilities.

In 1955 the Hill-Burton Act was expanded to include research in hospital operation/administration.

Hill-Burton was instrumental in improving the health of the public.

In 1956, the Health Research Act authorized increased funding for research against major diseases. Mass administration of Dr. Jonas Salk's polio vaccine began in 1954.

In 1963, the anti-measles vaccine was developed as a result of Hill-Burton funding for infectious diseases.

Funding for Hill-Burton ended in 1975.

WHO Redefines "Health"

The World Health Organization was established in 1948. WHO's purpose "is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.

Health is defined as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." Health now includes the components of social and physical well-being.

Health is defined in WHO's Constitution as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." Health now includes the components of social and physical well-being. (WHO Web site and more information about the site).

View Key Projects and Milestones in Health Services Research.

Discussion Questions

  1. How did the Hill-Burton Act effect the growth of hospitals in the United States? Was your hospital affected by this Act (if you are a hospital librarian)? How?
  2. It makes sense that lawmakers would be interested in providing research funding in hospital operation/administration as it was spending a lot of money on building hospitals. Discuss the implications of increased funding on hospital operation and administration to the hospitals and to the field of health services and healthcare administration.
  3. Hill-Burton raised the number of beds from 3 per 1,000 persons to a standard of 4.5 beds per 1,000 people. How did this increase in beds affect the general population? What was the impact on rural areas, if any?
  4. The World Health Organization publishes many useful reports and publications each year including the World Health Report. Is it important for librarians serving health services researchers to have a grasp of health services issues occurring elsewhere in the world? Why?
  5. Examine WHO's Research Tools page. What is available on the site and why would a research librarian be interested in what is on this page? Discuss.
  6. Why is it important that both of the concepts of social and physical well-being are included in the WHO definition of Health? Has this definition changed health services research? Public health?
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