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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 4: Search the Literature of HSR: Databases (Page 3 of 29)

Essential Concepts

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

NLM continues to collect and provide access to the literature in the field of health services research.  It develops databases, Web portals, and other mechanisms to provide access to information in health services research. 

Materials specially selected with a focus on health services research including clinical (emphasizing the evaluation of patient outcomes and the effectiveness of procedures, programs, products, services, and processes) and non-clinical (emphasizing health care administration, economics, planning, and policy) aspects of health care delivery, are available in several NLM online web-based environments:

  1. journal citations are being added weekly to NLM's PubMed database ( or
  2. books, book chapters, technical reports and conference papers are added regularly to NLM's online catalog, LocatorPlus (, and
  3. meeting abstracts from AcademyHealth ( (formerly the Academy for Health Services Research and Health Policy), Health Technology Assessment International (HTAi) ( International Society of Technology Assessment in Health Care).

To help focus searching of PubMed you can use:

Health Services Filters

  • group search results by areas of interest - specifically, health services research in My NCBI

Search by HSR Study Category

  • retrieve articles on healthcare quality and costs using the HSR Study Category search filters

Before Beginning Your Search

  • Before you start, answer the following questions:

    1. What are the major concepts in this question?
    2. What MeSH or natural language terms would you suggest?
    3. What strategy would you attempt?

HSRProj - Health Services Research Projects

  • Use the Health Services Research in Progress (HSRProj) database to find ongoing grants and contracts in health services research.

HSTAT: Health Services Technology Assessment Text

  • The Health Services Technology/Assessment Texts (HSTAT) is a free, Web-based resource of full-text documents that provide health information and support health care decision making. HSTAT's audience includes health care providers, health service researchers, policy makers, payers, consumers and the information professionals who serve these groups.
  • All of the collections in HSTAT can be accessed in the following ways:
    1. By searching the complete Bookshelf
    2. By searching the HSTAT collection specifically
    3. By browsing the collections form the HSTAT homepage
    4. Through links from "concept phrases" in PubMed abstracts
    5. From the new Entrez Global query feature
  • Each document within HSTAT is displayed in a series of bite-sized pieces, based on the subsections of the documents. A navigation bar on the left of each page allows the user to jump between document sections, documents or collections within HSTAT.
  • Any Bookshelf page can be bookmarked as a "favorite" for future reference, or be linked to by another Web page. Citations within HSTAT documents that also have a PubMed or PubMed Central record are hyperlinked accordingly from the reference list.

HSRR (Health Services and Sciences Research Resources)

  • HSRR is a searchable online database of records, i.e., categorical descriptions, of datasets and instruments.


  • DIRLINE - Directory of Information Resources Online - is the National Library of Medicine's online database containing location and descriptive information about a wide variety of information resources including organizations, research resources, projects, databases, and electronic bulletin boards concerned with health and biomedicine.
  • DIRLINE focuses primarily on health and biomedicine, although it also provides limited coverage of some other special interests.
  • it contains over 8,000 records

Related Databases

  • Since the health services research field covers so many disciplines, it is important to consider databases for public policy, economics, business, law, sociology, and others.


  • ABI-Inform provides access to journals that track healthcare business conditions, trends, management techniques, corporate strategies and related topics.


  • Examine BIOETHICSLINE for articles dealing with public policy and ethical issues in health care and biomedical research.
  • Content types include books newspaper articles, court decisions, bills and laws, and audiovisual materials.

CRISP - Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects

  • CRISP is a biomedical database system containing information on research projects and programs supported by the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Patient-oriented research including epidemiologic and behavioral studies and outcomes research and health services research is covered as are clinical trials.

CINAHL - Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health

  • It provides access to English language nursing journals, and other related publications including some full-text, as well as publications of the American Nurses' Association and the National League for Nursing.
  • It is an excellent source for alternative and complementary medicine/therapies and consumer health content.

HaPI - Health and Psychosocial Instruments

  • Use HaPI to locate unpublished information-gathering tools for clinicians that are discussed in journal articles, such as questionnaires, interview schedules, tests, checklists, rating and other scales, coding schemes, and projective techniques
  • a useful resource for instruments and survey questions

Index to Legal Periodicals

  • The Index to Legal Periodicals is a database of interest to health services researchers, especially those who are lawyers, and to the librarians who work on projects with them.
  • Contains citations to articles selected from more than 760 legal periodicals, including journals, yearbooks, and annual reviews.

NTIS - National Technical Information Service

  • Librarians like this database for the access it provides to the unpublished federal, state and local documents that it picks up.
  • To locate health-related topics, search the Health And Safety collection.

PAIS International

  • The PAIS International databaseis of interest to health services researchers and to the librarians who work on projects with them for topics like law and legislation, health, education, demography, statistics, sociology, and other social sciences.


  • References on topics related to population, demographics, family planning and on sexually transmitted disease are of immense interest to researchers.

Sociological Abstracts

  • Many health services researchers are trained in medical sociology.
  • It is important to have an idea of what this field covers so as to provide better service to researchers.

Key Journals

  • Like the field, many health services journals are multidisciplinary and address the needs of multiple communities of practice within the discipline of health services.
  • To keep up with what is happening in the field it is important to spend time with the tables of content from these key journals.
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