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Core Competencies

The following table presents our core competencies for Health Services Research Predoctoral Training along with the courses included in our curriculum to ensure that our students are well trained in each of these competencies.

Core Competency Curricula (Didactic)
(1) Understand the healthcare system and current areas of health care and health policy research PM 420, 421,422, 445, 448, 456, 483, 484, 430
(2) Understand key theories underlying current explanations for explanations for healthcare phenomena

PM420, 421,422, 445, 448, 456, 483, 484, 430

(3) Identify important and innovative HSR questions

PM 42 1,422, 428, 445, 448, 456, 472, 483, 484, 430

(4) Create and/or use policy-relevant theory-based explanations for health care phenomena and identify corresponding testable implications and/or important parameters for estimation. 

PM 421, 422, 428, 436, 445, 448, 456, 472, 483, 484, 430

(5) Create conceptual and mathematical models to facilitate the investigation of research questions

PM 428, 456, 483, 430

(6) Identify, develop, and implement the proper study designs, data collection and acquisition approaches, and analytic methods required to answer research questions

PM 412, 422, 428, 445, 463, 464, 465, 472, 484, IND 503,

(7) Integrate research findings into the current body of knowledge

PM 428

(8) Professional communication

PM 428

(9) Effectively work in multi-disciplinary teams

PM 421, 448

(10) Responsible conduct of research

IND 503

Required Courses

Code Name Description
PM 445

Introduction to Health Services Research

This course provides an introduction to field of health services research that includes (1) a review of the nature and scope of health services research, (2) discussion of conceptual frameworks for guiding health services research including systems-based approaches, (3) illustration and discussion of health services research topics (e.g. health system planning and policy, effectiveness and quality of care, efficiency of care, equity of care and disparities research, health care financing, the current US health care reform, and health care decision making), and (4) an ongoing review and discussion of current topics in health services research

PM 421

THE US HEALTH CARE SYSTEM: Financing, Delivery, Performance

This course examines the organization, financing, delivery, and performance of the US health care system.  The inherent tradeoffs between access to care, cost, quality, and outcomes are considered from the perspective of the main actors in the system, i.e. patients, providers (physicians, hospitals, etc.), health plans, insurers and payers. Topics include: need for and access to care; health care insurance and financing; Medicare and Medicaid; managed care; service delivery; long-term care; public health; quality of care, and others. The aim of the course is to help students deepen their understanding of the health care system, strengthen their ability to synthesize the literature and assess key current policy issues, and to further develop their critical thinking skills.

PM 420

Politics and Policies in the US Health Care System

This course examines the formation and evolution of American health policy from a political and historical perspective. Concentrating primarily on developments from 1932 to the present, the focus of readings and seminar discussions is political forces and institutions and historical and cultural contexts. Among the topics covered are efforts to rationalize and regionalize health care institutions, periodic campaigns for national health insurance, the creation of Medicare and Medicaid and the further evolution of these programs, the rise to dominance of economists and economic analysis in the shaping of health policy, incremental and state-based vs. universal and federal initiatives, the formation and failure of the Clinton administration’s health reform agenda, and national health reform during the Obama administration.

PM 456

Introduction to Health Economics

This course is theory driven and aims to provide students with introductory knowledge in health economics theory and implications to conduct health services research. The goal is to introduce the basic theory in economics. The first part includes the general assumptions, the basic theory as well as graphic tools in microeconomics. The second part includes the implications of the knowledge and introducing how to use these tools in health services research.


Advanced Health Economics

This course focuses on the intermediate theory and implication of health economics. Specifically, this course provides students with the necessary knowledge in modeling a health service research question using an economic model, solving an economic model using comparative statics and optimization techniques, and designing and conducting empirical studies to test hypotheses.  The courses will cover topics including the consumer problem, the producer problem, market equilibrium and failure, and additional topics.

PM 448

Policy Analysis

This course provides an introduction to policy analysis in the context of public health and health care.  The course focuses on developing the logic and argumentative skills necessary to produce compelling analyses of existing and proposed policies based on results from policy research.


Psychology in Health Services Research

The objective of this course is to introduce students to the use of psychological theory as explanations for healthcare problems.  The course covers key theories and models of Health Psychology (e.g. the Health Belief Model), key General Psychological theories commonly applied to health (e.g. Self Determination Theory), and the use of basic psychological theories and finding (e.g. Regulatory Focus Theory) in constructing policy-relevant and clinically-relevant explanations for health care problems.

PM 428

Research Workshop

This course provides a forum for students to develop and make presentations on their work, and obtain feedback on content, style, and communication.  All students are required to attend, and each student is required to present at least once each school year.

IND 51103

Ethics in Research

This course teaches students the ethical conduct of research in the academic setting.

PM 463

Introduction to Probability and Statistics

This course provides an introduction to mathematical probability and statistical inference.  Students are taught probability from the conceptual framework of Measure Theory and the operational framework of calculus. This approach provides students with a level of understanding that enables them to properly connect real world problems to applied analysis.

PM 464

Regression Analysis

This course provides an introduction to primary tools for econometric and statistical analysis in empirical study for first-year graduate students in Health Services Research. There are two goals for the course.  First is to introduce linear regression models and categorical variable models (e.g. logit, probit, multinomial/conditional/nested logit,), understand assumptions and how to assess them, how to test model specification, and how to estimate and interpret parameters.  The second goal is to provide an overall structure for conducting analysis, including the description of a data set, specification and application of a model, and the coherent, concise description of the results.


Methods Elective

Students are currently required to take a statistical methods elective in the Fall of their second year—the elective can be drawn from any relevant doctoral program at the university.  This course requirement will be replaced in the Fall of 2013 by the Causal Analysis and Advanced Models course.

PM 465

Advanced Multivariate Analysis

Whereas the Regression Analysis course teaches basic models, and the Causal Analysis and Advanced Models teaches more advanced standard analyses, this course teaches students how to program and estimate non-standard problems (i.e. those problems not available as preprogrammed routines in software).  The course teaches general estimation frameworks including least squared errors (focusing on nonlinear least squares) and least squared simulated errors, maximum likelihood and maximum simulated likelihood, and generalized method of moments and generalized method of simulated moments.  In addition, the course also teaches generalized linear models and generalized estimating equations.

PM 412

Survey Research

This course presents the necessary elements of survey instrument development and survey research methods, with a particular focus on practical applications in health care research, epidemiology and social & behavioral science. The course incorporates an integrated perspective that includes a qualitative approach to survey development and interpretation and the methods for conducting valid and reliable survey research.

PM 472

Measurement and Evaluation of Research Instruments

This course provides a comprehensive background in the development, administration, scoring, interpretation and evaluation of research instruments.  The covers the principles of survey development, comparative analysis of various instrument designs, reliability, validity, principle components, factor analysis and item response theory.

PM 484

Decision making and Cost Effectiveness

In this course, students are taught the methods and objectives of decision analysis and cost-effectiveness research, as well as important study-design issues that distinguish these investigations from other clinical research studies. Students learn decision analysis software.

PM 422

Quality of Care and Risk Adjustment

This course covers the methods and opportunities available to track and assess outcomes of clinical practices and medical technologies. The material covered introduces the framework, analytic approaches, databases and settings available for studies addressing patient preferences and satisfaction, practice patterns, clinical interventions and strategies that constitute the content of health care. The course focuses on the use of patient populations and databases as laboratories for the generation of new knowledge and information.