POPLHLTH 767 : Health Services Research Methods

Medical and Health Sciences

2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Focuses on teaching the knowledge and practical skills to conduct health services research. The course follows through the typical research process drawing on a range of different methodologies and methods, both quantitative and qualitative, to develop and answer research questions relating to the accessibility, quality and cost of health care and the improvement of health outcomes.

Course Overview

Health Service Research (HSR) has been defined as “studies that address the planning, distribution, organization, provision, quality, effectiveness, efficiency, and outcome of health care services, with the aim of improving the health care of the public through enhanced clinical and organizational practices and health care and public policy” (Shi, 2008). The objectives of this course are to teach the core knowledge and skills that a health services researcher must have to conduct this type of research. These core components have been adapted from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Health Services Research Core Competencies (2005) and will cover the following areas:
  • Theoretical and conceptual knowledge.
  • Developing HSR questions.
  • Study designs.
  • Primary and secondary data collection methods.
  • Conceptual models and operational measures.
  • Research ethics.
  • Data analysis.
  • Scientific communication.
  • Stakeholder collaboration and knowledge translation

Course Requirements

Restriction: POPLHLTH 702

Course Contacts

Rob McNeill (r.mcneill@auckland.ac.nz)

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism
Graduate Profile: Master of Public Health

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Use the literature, stakeholder needs, and relevant theoretical/conceptual models to develop innovative and important health services research questions. (Capability 3, 4 and 5)
  2. Select appropriate and ethical study designs to address specific health services research questions. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 8)
  3. Identify appropriate measures and collect primary and/or secondary data to fit different research questions and designs. (Capability 3, 4 and 5)
  4. Use appropriate analytical methods to answer health services research questions, and communicate the findings and implications of health services research through multiple modalities. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  5. Demonstrate how policymakers, organisations, and communities can be included in the process of planning, conducting, and translating health services research findings into policy and practice. (Capability 3, 6, 7 and 8)
  6. Identify and synthesize a body of literature to answer a specific research question. (Capability 3 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Literature Review 20% Individual Coursework
Research Proposal 25% Individual Coursework
Research Skills 25% Individual Coursework
Exam 30% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Literature Review
Research Proposal
Research Skills

Workload Expectations

Following University workload guidelines, a standard 15 point course represents approximately 150 hours of study.

For this course, you can expect 24 hours of lectures and 6 hours of tutorial time. Since the course as a whole represents approximately 150 hours of study, that leaves a total of 120 hours across the entire semester for independent study, e.g. reading, reflection, preparing for assessments/exams, etc.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities including lectures and tutorials, to complete components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings but given the nature of these sessions it is not always easy to fully comprehend the content by relying on this format. Other learning activities such as the tutorials will not be fully available as recordings.
The course may include live online events including group discussions and office hours.
The activities for the course are scheduled as block delivery.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

No significant issues were identified in a recent (2023) student evaluation of the course.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website http://disability.auckland.ac.nz

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/academic-information/exams-and-final-results/during-exams/aegrotat-and-compassionate-consideration.html.

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/forms-policies-and-guidelines/student-policies-and-guidelines/student-charter.html.


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.