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Publication Briefs

Career Development Programs Successfully Prepare Future Health Services Researchers, Particularly VA HSR&D

With an aging health services research (HSR) workforce and healthcare reform challenges, the demand for well-trained HSR researchers will likely increase. To ensure future generations of health services researchers, VA HSR&D, the National Institutes for Health (NIH), and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) support career development programs that provide salary support, training, and mentoring. This evaluation compared the accomplishments of 219 HSR&D Career Development Awardees from FY1991 through FY2010; 154 NIH awardees from FY1991 through FY2010; and 69 AHRQ awardees from FY2000 through FY2010. Specifically, investigators sought to determine whether there were any differences among these groups in: academic advancement (highest attained tenure-track rank); publications (number of major journal articles, and number of articles as first or sole author); grants (more than $5,000); recognition (i.e., serving as journal editor or guest editor, or as a member of a grant review panel); and mentoring (i.e., number of post-doctoral researchers mentored by FY2010). Investigators adjusted for the number of years since the award, as well as covariates including personal characteristics, prior training, and productivity.


  • All three HSR career development programs are successfully selecting and mentoring awardees, ensuring additional HSR capacity to improve the quality and delivery of high-value healthcare.
  • VA HSR&D awardees had been PI on significantly more grants of $100,000+ than NIH awardees, and also had more major journal articles than NIH awardees. No significant differences emerged among HSR&D, NIH, and AHRQ awardees in covariate-adjusted tenure-track academic rank, number of grants as primary investigator, major journal articles and articles as first or sole author, or mentoring post-graduate researchers.
  • A total of 14% of the HSR&D awardees were from minority racial/ethnic groups compared to 24% of the NIH awardees, with the AHRQ group also having a higher percentage of minority awardees (22%).


  • Although the productivity of all groups is likely over-estimated by using data from only those study participants who returned CVs, the over-estimation should be less for the VA HSR&D awardees, whose participation rate was higher.
  • Despite using nine covariates, omitted variables may have biased the comparisons.

This evaluation was funded by HSR&D (SDR 10-182). Dr. Finlay is supported by an HSR&D Career Development Award, and Dr. Timko is supported by an HSR&D Research Career Scientist Award. Drs. Finney, Amundson, Bi, Finlay, Halvorson, Hayashi, Owens, Maisel, and Cronkite are part of HSR&D's Center for Innovation to Implementation (Ci2i) in Palo Alto, CA. Dr. Cucciare is part of HSR&D's Center for Mental Healthcare and Outcomes Research in North Little Rock, AR. Dr. Eisen is the former director of HSR&D.

PubMed Logo Finney J, Amundson E, Bi X, Cucciare M, Eisen S, Finlay A, Halvorson M, Hayashi K, Owens D, Maisel N, Timko C, Weitlauf J, and Cronkite R. Evaluating the Productivity of VA, NIH, and AHRQ Health Services Research Career Development Awardees. Academic Medicine, Research Report; November 9, 2015; Epub ahead of print.

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What are HSR Publication Briefs?

HSR requires notification by HSR-funded investigators about all articles accepted for publication. These journal articles are reviewed by HSR and publication briefs or summaries are written for a select number of articles that are then forwarded to VHA Central Office leadership to keep them informed about important findings or information. Articles to be summarized are selected by HSR based on timeliness of the findings, interest of leadership, or potential impact on the organization. Publication briefs are written for only a small number of HSR published articles. Visit the HSR citations database for a complete listing of HSR articles and presentations.

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