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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 20 of 40)

Health Services Research at the National Level

NIH Study Sections

A series of discussions began in 1960 by two NIH study sections, the Health Services Research Study Section and the Nursing Research Study Section. The purpose of these sessions was to discuss and define the field of "Patient Care Research".

Kerr White

Kerr White served as the chairman of the Health Services Research Study Section from 1963-1965. Under White's leadership and with the support of top NIH officials, the Health Services Research Study Section set out to accelerate the development of the field in the United States.

Under White's leadership and with the support of top NIH officials, the Health Services Research Study Section set out to accelerate the development of the field in the United States.

One major initiative was the commissioning of a set of papers which defined the scope, methods, standards, and applications of health services research.

Symposium on Medical Care Research

Also, in 1964 White organized a symposium on Medical Care Research. These papers were published in 1968 in the Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly in a special issue under the editorship of Donald Mainland. Article titles included such topics as: "Health manpower in transition," "The health agenda for the future," and "Organization and delivery of personal health services."

Kerr White's Vision for Health Services Research

White had a vision of this new field of health services research as an amalgam of the perspectives of public health and clinical medicine, including methodology from economics, social survey research, epidemiology, biostatistics, and systems analysis.

Health Services Research (Journal)

Another initiative during this period was the launching of a new journal, Health Services Research, which began publication in 1966 under the sponsorship of the Hospital Research and Education Trust (HRET), an affiliate of the American Hospital Association.

The first issue covered four topics: utilization of facilities of a university hospital (length of stay), probability sampling technique (statistical methods), patients' waiting time in an outpatient setting (health services utilization), and identification codes for medical records (informatics).

More on this journal is located in Module 4.

View Key Projects and Milestones in Health Services Research.

Discussion Questions

  1. Kerr White continues to be a driving force in the field of health services research. Look at the links in the enrichment section for details of his involvement - then discuss how he and his body of research kick-started health services research in the 1960s.
  2. Describe why you know the journal, Health Services Research, is so important in the field of health services.
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