Course: Introduction to Methods for Health Service Research and Evaluation

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Course Description

Introduction to Methods for Health Services Research and Evaluation provides an introduction to basic methods for undertaking research and program evaluation within health services organizations and systems. In addition to basic methods, the course also provides "the state of the art" in research and evaluation through the review of major completed studies. This course is recommended for students who will be carrying out policy research, social science research, or program impact evaluation within health delivery systems. It is also relevant to those who will apply the results of Health Services Research (HSR) done by others.

Course Objectives

On completion of this course, students will be able to do the following:

  • Critique published health services research and health program evaluations
  • Develop a design for a research or evaluation project.

More specifically, after completing all aspects of the course students will be able to:

  • Describe the relationship between health services research and program evaluation
  • Identify differences between basic and policy-relevant health services research projects and program evaluation
  • Develop a conceptual framework for a study, showing the hypothesized causal variables and the expected outcomes
  • Identify different types of study design, including observational, pre-experimental and experimental designs, and their inherent threats to internal and external validity
  • Describe the basic issues related to measurement of variables
  • Identify problems with measurement reliability and validity
  • Identify aspects of quality of care and its measurement as they relate to health services research projects
  • Discuss how survey research is used in health services research and evaluation, in terms of choice of sampling techniques, determination of sample size, and approaches to writing survey questions
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the basic concepts of cost benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis
  • Utilize secondary data and existing information sources in research projects


Required and optional reading assignments for each session are shown on the Readings page.

Course Requirements

The course contains 15 lectures, 7 individual exercises, and 4 laboratory group sessions.

Grading Formula

  • Mid-term paper (35%)
  • Student participation (15%)
  • Final paper (50%)