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8th Health Services and Policy Research Conference


The Health Services Research Association of Australia and New Zealand was established following the highly successful 1st Health Services and Policy Research Conference in 1999 to facilitate communication across researchers, and between researchers and policymakers, to promote education and training in health services research, and to ensure sustainable capacity in health services research in Australia and New Zealand.

The Association has grown over the years and now has a strong membership base of both individual health service researchers and corporate health services research groups, government departments and agencies. In recent year it has been able to employ an Executive Officer and as well as continuing to run a major health services research and policy conferences every two year it has been able to engage in a wider range of activities and opportunities for its members including early career workshops, special seminars, and its corporate member forums.

The Association maintains a vibrant website and issues a regular newsletter and email bulletins highlighting the latest HSR new, events and career opportunities. Behind the scenes the Executive is also working to promote health services research to research funding agencies and to policymakers.

One of the many benefits of HSRAANZ membership is reduced membership rates at all our events, including the Health Services and Policy Conference. So if you are not a member and are thinking of attending this Conference there has never been a better time to join. Click here ( to find out more about the Association and how to join.

What is health services research?

Health Services Research (HSR) is a multi-disciplinary research activity with an implicit objective of improving the health services patients receive. Thus it is an area of applied rather than 'basic' research - it uses theories of human behaviour from contributing disciplines, along with evidence from the medical sciences, to generate and test hypotheses about the delivery of health care.

Improvement of health services has many dimensions: better quality care (including care that is effective, timely and appropriate), more accessible care, more equal distribution of health gains from health services, safer care, and improved efficiency, both allocative and technical, in the provision of health care.

HSR differs from single-discipline research in that it seeks to understand these dimensions from multiple perspectives. It calls on knowledge from the contributing direct service disciplines of medicine, nursing, allied health, and psychology to understand dimensions of effectiveness, quality and safety of direct care in all its forms. It calls on the disciplines of psychology, sociology, political science, management science and health economics, to understand the social dimensions of care: access, distribution, timeliness, efficiency.

While HSR shares a concern for improvement of health services with practitioners of 'big-P' health policy (health ministers, senior bureaucrats), it is distinguished by its emphasis on a research basis for policy, in contrast to big-P policy practitioners who must consider expedient policy solutions and electoral support. HSR is underpinned by a belief that systematic investigation of health services, and the systems in which they are provided, is helpful in improving health outcomes.

The focus on services is what distinguishes HSR from other multidisciplinary health research activities. Population health (and most of 'public health') rightly focuses on the antecedents to ill-health and explanations for the distribution of health and disease. 'Public health' is historically an amalgam of population-based measures (eg, sanitation) and individual health services (eg, immunisation), but public health research is usually not principally 'service' focussed.

The audience for HSR extends across a broad spectrum, from innovators in bioscience to experts in indigenous health. Practitioners and researchers share an interest in understanding how health services contribute to their own domains and how they can be improved to increase the welfare of society more generally.