A more direct way to assess the status of U.S.-based cancer-related health services research is to describe topics of investigation and levels of research spending. There is no one comprehensive source of information on health services research support, and as part of its review, the National Cancer Policy Board relied on the following sources:
Despite the best efforts of the Board, the description of the nation's cancer-related health services research portfolio that follows may under-or over-estimate the actual level of research. Organizations varied in how they defined health services research and consequently, there is likely some inconsistency in what was included (or excluded) as a health services research activity. Furthermore, some health services research activities may have been missed because of limitations of research tracking systems. The review is limited to currently active research projects for most organizations.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) includes the Public Health Service (PHS), which in turn oversees several sites that house cancer research: the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Within DHHS, the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), which is organizationally parallel to the PHS, also supports applied cancer research. DHHS reports to Congress each year about the amount it spends on a number of health-related areas, including cancer (McGeary, 1999).