Key areas

The relevant branches of health services research includes, inter alia, the demand, health claims and organisational research areas, Health Technology Assessment (HTA), care economy and epidemiology, and quality research.

Demand research mainly deals with the determination of subjective and objective demand and its determining factors.

The aim of health claims research is to acquire knowledge of the extent and quality of the benefits which have been claimed and of the factors which have influenced this behaviour.

Organisational research describes and analyses care structures and processes in the health system.

HTA investigates, as a form of technology-based health services research, product and process-based care technologies. An important aim of this branch of research consists of issuing reports on the effectiveness of medical procedures or techniques by compiling so-called HTA reports. These systematic overviews, which are compiled according to clearly defined rules, and which process the latest state of research on a subject, serve as decision-making tools for politicians responsible for the health system.

Care economy mainly deals with financing issues within the health system, and for example determines, in this context, the cost and benefits of care structures, processes and technologies.

Health care epidemiology investigates the connection between the health system and outcome parameters with the goal of analyzing the influence of care structures, processes and technologies, as well as their performance, on, for instance, life expectancy, health, and the well-being of patients. In this context, so-called effectiveness research is becoming

increasingly significant. The latter investigates the relative effectiveness of treatment methods and procedures with the help of various primarily social science-based methods (for further details, see Pfaff 2003).

The job of quality research is to suitably measure and describe the quality of structures, processes and results of medical and health care. At the same time, it is also the aim of health services research to cooperate in developing suitable and practicable structures, processes and instruments to measure, safeguard and optimise quality. In this way, factors can be found which determine ‟good” quality, and these can be made available to key players in the health branch. Ideally, organisational research and quality research cooperate closely. In this context, a central aim of health services research, with its surveys, methods and solutions, is also to process problems in the fields of quality assurance and management.

Branches of health services research (according to Pfaff, 2003)

  Demand research Health claims research Organisational research HTA Care economy Health care epidemiology Quality research
Focus of analysis demand


-objective -subjective

claims Health care structures and processes Care technologies/ products financing costs benefits health well-being Quality
Approach in systems theory-based model -Input -Input -Throughput -Throughput
-Outcome -Throughput