Credibility of Research Hinges on Its Independence from the Health Care System

Development of a strategy to strengthen the field of health care research

    • July 1, 2001

Between 1999 and 2000, the Association for Health Services Research (AHSR), (now AcademyHealth) Washington, carried out a project designed to strengthen support for health services research—a field that has helped to identify solutions to problems of cost, quality, and access in the health care delivery system.

A consulting group hired by AHSR, Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va. conducted focus groups, telephone interviews, and a national survey. They interviewed consumers, health care purchasers, registered voters and Washington health are opinion leaders.

Key Findings

  • Among the key findings from the consumer focus groups:

    • The field of health services research should position itself as independent of the health care delivery system, and as a neutral provider of new knowledge to the medical community and patients.
  • Health care purchasers said the field of health services research must:

    • Explain what it does using "real world" examples.
    • Link itself to the pursuit of quality health care.
  • A national survey of registered voters found that:

    • Support for health services research increased when respondents learned more about what it was
  • Interviews with Washington health care opinion leaders suggested that more funding for health services research could be gained if the field:

    • Concentrates on immediate rather than long-term needs.
    • Makes better efforts to increase press coverage and exposure to the general public.