Among the strategies employed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the creation and nurturing of new fields. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Foundation funded the development of a new field of health care professionals—nurse practitioners. In the 1990s, it seeded and supported the new field of tobacco-policy research. That same decade, the Foundation's funding, along with that of the Open Society Institute, advanced the field of palliative care. As discussed in Chapter One of this volume, the Foundation also has been influential in developing quality of care as a field.
In this chapter, David Colby examines the Foundation's role in creating the field of health services research. As Colby, the Foundation's vice president for research and evaluation (and co-editor of this volume), describes it, building the field came about as a by-product of the Foundation's support of research and researchers that could help the Foundation improve its own programming efforts. It was only late in the game that Foundation officials realized that they had created what could be considered a field and began providing core support to two of its main pillars: AcademyHealth, the organization that serves as the hub of the health services researchers' network, and Health Affairs, the field's premier research and policy journal. However circuitous the way of getting there, health services research is now a vibrant and well-respected academic field.