Fostering Responsible Conclusions and Messages in Health Services Research

Last modified: May 22, 2017


The evidence-base for questionable research practices (QRPs) in various sciences has been building up. We focus this project on Health Services Research (HSR), as a case study for policy oriented disciplines where there is a lack of knowledge about the occurrence and causes of QRPs. It is likely QRPs are prevalent in HSR which is particularly worrisome because HSR has direct impact on decision making by citizens, health care providers and policy makers. We will study the prevalence and causes of QRPs in the phase of research where researchers have the most freedom, that is: deriving conclusions from HSR findings and disseminating messages in scientific and societal publications.


To explore the prevalence, nature and causes of QRPs in deriving conclusions and messages from HSR findings in scientific and societal publications, and analyse good practices and to use the results to develop and disseminate concrete recommendations and tools to improve current practice.


130 health services researchers from 13 Dutch HSR groups and organisations and their institutional/group heads.


Research departs from a theoretical framework of factors influencing the translation of research findings at the level of:

  1. The Individual researcher;
  2. Supervisors;
  3. The research project;
  4. Institutional conditions;
  5. Journal, Publication and Media features.

Prevalence of QRP will be measured through assessment from scientific and societal publication from the 13 HSR Groups. Causes of QRP’s will be identified through a survey among HSRers. Good practices will be identified through in depth interviews. Recommendations will be developed based on results, stakeholder consultations and disseminated to the HSR Group Heads.

Expected outcomes

This study will result in 1) Improved conclusions and messages in scientific and societal publications by Dutch health services researchers; 2) Improved decision-making and better informed public debate on health policies among professionals, policymakers, patients and the general public; 3) Solutions to reduce QRPs in other policy oriented sciences.


This study is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMW).

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