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Health Services Research

Health services research is the multidisciplinary field of scientific investigation that studies how social factors, financing systems, organizational structures and processes, health technologies, and personal behaviors affect access to health care, the quality and cost of health care, and quantity and quality of life.1

Studies in health services research have looked at outcomes at the individual, family, organizational, institutional, community, and population level. HSR studies examine how people get access to health care, how much care costs, and what happens to patients as a result of this care.

The main goals of health services research are to identify the most effective ways to organize, manage, finance, and deliver high quality care; reduce medical errors; and improve patient safety.2

While health services research is grounded in theory, the discipline exists to perform research that can be applied by physicians, nurses, managers, and other people who make decisions or deliver care in the health care system.

Health services researchers come from a variety of backgrounds including economics, political science, epidemiology, public health, medicine, biostatistics, operations, and management.


1. AcademyHealth, June 2000
2. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, February 2002


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