According to the Institute of Medicine, health services research is "a multidisciplinary field of inquiry, both basic and applied, that examines the use, costs, quality, accessibility, delivery, organization, financing, and outcomes of health care services." The health care system is undergoing dramatic changes and many public and private health care organizations have need for health services research. Most of the demand is at the state or local levels and comes from both the public and private sectors of the health care community. The goal of the Health Services Research Unit, in accordance with the Department of Public Health Sciences's mission, is to develop, demonstrate, and evaluate innovative health care services based on effectiveness, efficiency, and the application of the latest advances in preventative, clinical, and health care research. The unit's specialty is substance abuse prevention, intervention, and treatment research.
The Health Services Research Unit is the largest research division within the Department of Public Health Sciences in terms of both faculty and staff personnel and the amount of extramural research funding coming into the department. The members of the unit have been trained in a variety of fields including psychology, sociology, public health, social work, communication, philosophy, and business. The diversity in experience among staff members brings a variety of skills to community-based substance abuse prevention, intervention, and treatment research helping the unit to excel in applied research.