Strategies for growing health services research in Victoria

BioMedVic continues to build relations and work in partnership with the Victorian Government on key topics for the state and sector. With the Victorian Cancer Agency and the Office of Health and Medical Research, BioMedVic recently conducted a joint workshop to identify strategies to build capacity in health services research (HSR) in Victoria.

The workshop aimed to identify options to foster a supportive environment for the conduct of high quality health services research, including developing and retaining talented researchers.

The workshop brought together stakeholders to:

  • discuss the current state of health services research in Victoria, including strengths, gaps, obstacles and enablers, from the perspective of researchers, health services and universities;
  • brainstorm approaches to building health services research capacity and identify infrastructure and enablers to support health services research; and
  • identify priorities and initiatives that can be implemented in the short and long term.

The beginning of a longer conversation, a starting point in our shared goal of building capacity in HSR in the state, the workshop featured two keynote speakers:

Professor Eva Grunfeld (Director, Knowledge Translation Research, Health Services Research Program at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research) presented a case study on cancer health services research. Professor Karin Thursky (Director, NHMRC National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship, RMH at the Doherty Institute) covered health services research in infection prevention and management in cancer and other diseases.

Health services research has been identified as a priority for Victoria to support improvements in the delivery, equitable access, safety and efficiency of care. The Victorian cancer plan 2016-2020 recognises the need to promote health services research to support knowledge translation including clinical care models, evaluation of care pathways, and development of decision support tools. Victoria’s Health and Medical Research Strategy 2016-2020 acknowledges the importance of supporting health services research as part of building world-leading convergence-enabled research capability, maintaining Victoria’s highly skilled health and medical research workforce, and integrating research, education and healthcare to accelerate the pace, scale and impact of innovation.

What do we mean by health services research?

Discussion at this workshop was guided by the Health Services Research Association of Australia & New Zealand definition of health services research, which is reproduced in part here:

Health Services Research 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.

BioMedVic will continue to work with the Victorian Cancer Agency and the Office of Health and Medical Research to extend the discussion and explore strategies for building capacity for health services research and looks forward to consulting with Members on this important topic in future.