Maximizing the Impact of Surgical Health Services Research The Methodology Toolbox

JAMA Surg. 2020 Jan 29. [Epub ahead of print]

In the past, stereotypical surgeon-scientists were busy clinical surgeons who studied the intersection of their clinical specialty and biology in a laboratory setting. They harnessed their passion and interest in clinical pathophysiology in the laboratory with their innate desire to fix problems in the operating room. However, with the growing complexity of our health care system, surgeons’ focus has slowly shifted to the epidemiology of surgical diseases, trying to understand the patient-level implications of our clinical decisions and the population-level effect of operations we perform every day. These areas of scientific inquiry are commonly referred to as health services research (HSR).

We hope that this new series will increase the awareness, interest, and use of the many HSR methodologies available to surgical investigators. Understanding the methodology toolbox is an excellent starting point for every investigator looking to design and conduct important research studies. Having a better appreciation of this broad armamentarium of methods will hopefully encourage surgeons to continue asking high-impact questions and producing high-quality research. We wish each reader the best of luck and hope that this series helps them with their research and eventually helps our profession and most of all, the patients we serve.