Research Support

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:

  • information catalogued in the HSRProj database (Health Services Research Project database) maintained by the National Library of Medicine—this database includes brief descriptions of ongoing extramural research sponsored by federal and state agencies, foundations, and other organizations;
  • listings of research projects provided by some organizations (e.g., National Cancer Institute, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, American Cancer Society);
  • review of annual reports of research arms of certain agencies (e.g., the Department of Veterans Affairs);
  • review of agency web sites (e.g., Department of Defense);
  • informal contacts with agency representatives known to be involved in health services research (e.g., Health Care Financing Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention); and
  • meetings with senior agency representatives (i.e., Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, National Cancer Institute).

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.

Federally Sponsored Research

Department of Health and Human Services

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).

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