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HSR Author Instructions: Aims and Scope

The primary purpose of HSR is to provide researchers and users of health services research with new knowledge. We focus on methods, concepts, and results related to the financing, organization, delivery, evaluation, and outcomes of health services. Our audience includes researchers, health care providers, health system managers, and policymakers.

Our vision is to be the preferred outlet for:

  • Disseminating findings from original investigations that expand understanding of the broad field of health care and how it can improve the health of individuals and communities
  • Analyzing and discussing how findings can be applied in U.S. clinical practice, management and policy.

Our mission is to further our vision by publishing thoughtful, timely, rigorously conducted, state-of-the- art research articles and commentaries that are widely disseminated and meet the highest standards of scientific peer review.

  • HSR is interested in studies that appropriately apply the full range of research methods from quantitative to qualitative and from primary data analyses to systematic reviews of the literature. Areas of interest include:

    • Issues related to the delivery of care—for example, access to and utilization of health services; cost, cost-effectiveness, quality, and outcomes of care; practice variation; technology assessment; and health care workforce issues including provider satisfaction and sustainability
    • Assessments of the impact of or changes in specific policies and interventions on health care delivery—for example, Medicare and Medicaid, state health policies and regulations, health insurance and payment policies, personnel licensure and certification, and antitrust enforcement
    • Evaluation of national or regional demonstration programs—for example, those designed to improve health care quality or patient outcomes, and/or to reduce health care costs
    • Studies of the roles of health care organizations and health systems in contributing to health care quality, patient outcomes, health care costs, or provider experience—for example, studies demonstrating how health care organizations are functioning as learning health care systems that generate and adopt evidence to improve performance
    • Studies that report on important new data sources—for example, electronic health records, patient-generated data, and patient-reported outcome measures, as well as valid and generalizable methods for analyzing these new sources of data
    • Studies on biological, behavioral, social, and political factors—including structural racism—in addition to health care, as determinants of health outcomes
    • Articles that advance health services research by developing, demonstrating, or rigorously validating qualitative and quantitative methods in study design, data collection, and analyses
  • HSR typically does not consider the following types of articles.

    • Preliminary or scoping reviews of the literature that describe but do not synthesize the literature in a systematic manner
    • Case studies from a single site, in the absence of a reasonable argument for the generalizability of the findings to other sites
    • Simple pre-post (uncontrolled) studies, which generally cannot account for secular trends and other confounding factors
    • Studies whose most recent data are >5 years old unless the cover letter and manuscript provide a valid reason for using older data
    • Unsolicited commentaries whose sole purpose is to critique a specific article published in HSR or elsewhere
  • While HSR welcomes manuscripts from authors outside the US, our interest in international articles is limited to those that either include US findings (often in comparison with other countries) or that have findings relevant to the US health care context. For example, chronic disease management for aging populations is a theme of research across all developed countries, and would generally be relevant to the US. In contrast, studies of health services in countries other than the US without direct, analytic comparison to US practices are less likely to be relevant. The cover letter and Discussion section for any submission from outside the US should explain why the article is pertinent or salient to US health care.

  • HSR publishes in print six regular issues and two special or theme issues annually. All papers published in print are also published electronically. Electronic versions may include color figures and are accompanied by electronic-only supporting information that does not appear in print (e.g., appendices). HSR now publishes papers online within about one week of acceptance via Accepted Articles and within about one month of acceptance via the Wiley Early View service. These publications are fully citable and accessible through bibliographic search tools. Articles subsequently appear in a printed issue.

    At least twice a year, HSR publishes special issues supported by outside sponsorship. Papers in special issues are subject to the same external peer review process as other papers submitted to the journal. Proposals for special issues require editorial approval. Potential sponsors for a special issue should contact the editors via hsr@aha.org. (See recent special issues and information on the process.)