Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

POPLHLTH 767 - Health Services Research Methods

15 Points

Semester 1



Focuses on teaching the knowledge and practical skills to conduct health services research. The course follows through the typical research process drawing on a range of different methodologies and methods, both quantitative and qualitative, to develop and answer research questions relating to the accessibility, quality and cost of health care and the improvement of health outcomes.


Restriction: POPLHLTH 702

Course aims

Goals of the course

Health Service Research (HSR) has been defined as "studies that address the planning, distribution, organization, provision, quality, effectiveness, efficiency, and outcome of health care services, with the aim of improving the health care of the public through enhanced clinical and organizational practices and health care and public policy" (Shi, 2008).

The objectives of this course are to teach the core knowledge and skills that a health services researcher must have to conduct this type of research. These core components have been adapted from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Health Services Research Core Competencies (2005) and will cover the following areas:

  • Theoretical and conceptual knowledge
  • Developing HSR questions
  • Study designs
  • Primary and secondary data collection methods
  • Conceptual models and operational measures
  • Research ethics
  • Data analysis
  • Scientific communication
  • Stakeholder collaboration and knowledge translation.

Learning outcomes 

In alignment with the objectives of the course, the learning outcomes are to for students to leave the course with an understanding of how to:

  • Use the literature, stakeholder needs, and relevant theoretical/conceptual models to develop innovative and important health services research questions
  • Select appropriate and ethical study designs to address specific health services research questions
  • Identify appropriate measures and collect primary and/or secondary data to fit different research questions and designs
  • Use appropriate analytical methods to answer health services research questions, and communicate the findings and implications of health services research through multiple modalities
  • Demonstrate how policymakers, organisations, and communities can be included in the process of planning, conducting, and translating health services research findings into policy and practice

Course outline

  • Theoretical and conceptual knowledge
  • Developing HSR questions
  • Discipline-specific knowledge and skills
  • Application of HSR foundational knowledge to health policy problems
  • Study designs
  • Primary data collection methods
  • Secondary data collection methods
  • Conceptual models and operational measures
  • Implementation of research protocols
  • Responsible conduct of research
  • Data analysis
  • Scientific communication
  • Stakeholder collaboration and knowledge translation

Learning and teaching

Eight half-day classes each from 9.00am to 12.30pm. On four of the class days there will also be a two hour tutorials from 1.30pm to 3.30pm.

This course is held at Tāmaki Campus. Please see your timetable on SSO or Building 730 Reception noticeboard on the day for the room details. Class size is usually around 15-25 students.

Preparatory readings/exercises prior to each class. Classes will include lectures, class discussions, small group exercises and tutorials.


The course consists of 60% coursework and a 40% examination.

The coursework will include:

1. An integrated literature review (2000 words, 20 marks)

2. A research funding proposal (2000 words, 20 marks)

3. A task-based assessment of the practical skills taught in the course (20 marks).

Note that the examination timetables are not finalised and available to students until 6-8 weeks into the semester.

Learning resources

POPLHLTH 767 course book

Additional resource documents and links will be uploaded to CANVAS (Leaning Management System) prior to and during the course.

Course Coordinator

Course Administrator

Email: pgpophealth@auckland.ac.nz

Phone: +64 (0) 9 9232760