What is Health Services Research?

Health services research (HSR), also known as health systems research or health policy and systems research (HPSR), is a multidisciplinary scientific field that 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 ultimately our health and well-being. Its research domains are individuals, families, organizations, institutions, communities, and populations. 


As portrayed on the Academy Health website, in the simplest terms, HSR is the science/field of study that asks:

  1. What works?
  2. For whom?
  3. At what cost?
  4. Under what circumstances?


Compared with medical research, HSR is a relatively young science that developed through the bringing together of social science perspectives with the contributions of individuals and institutions engaged in delivering health services.

Close X