The Center on Health Services Training and Research (CoHSTAR)

Health services research is evidence we can use.

Now in year 8, the Foundation-funded Center on Health Services Training and Research (CoHSTAR) is building the evidence base to show the value of physical therapy services to patients, payers, and providers alike. CoHSTAR is funded with a 10-year Foundation for Physical Therapy Research (FPTR) grant of $3.75 million. The multi-institutional center is a collaboration between Brown University, Boston University, and University of Pittsburgh.

CoHSTAR is training physical therapist scientists in order to dramatically increase and improve physical therapy health services research capacity. CoHSTAR offers postdoctoral fellowships, hosts visiting scientists, and provides special summer training sessions. Funding for CoHSTAR was made possible with a $1 million gift from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), gifts from APTA components, and donations from physical therapists, foundations, and corporations with a shared passion for the field of physical therapy.

About CoHSTAR 


CoHSTAR’s mission is to train physical therapists to conduct health services and health policy research and to expand the number of physical therapists who specialize in this research. CoHSTAR strives to increase physical therapy health services research capacity.


  • Build health services research infrastructure …to facilitate interdisciplinary health services/health policy research by physical therapist scientists
  • Expand the number of physical therapist health services/health policy researchers …by training highly skilled, physical therapist health services/health policy researchers
  • Increase the quantity and quality of physical therapy health services/health policy research …by supporting high quality pilot and small studies that lead to external funding and scholarship
  • Build upon active and growing research programs at collaborating institutions …to build a sustainable, long-term capacity for physical therapy health services and health policy research training

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Health services research (HSR), also known as health systems or health policy research, looks at how people access healthcare services and providers, costs of care, and outcomes of care. HSR studies aim to find the most effective, efficient, safe and accessible ways to deliver patient care.

CoHSTAR was established by the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research to promote HSR to ensure that we will be better prepared to address critical issues facing our profession and the health care system. Government agencies, lawmakers, payers, providers, and consumers rely on HSR to make important decisions.  HSR impacts the healthcare landscape by enabling providers and patients to make better decisions about health care, leading to improvements in the health of our society.  HSR informs decisions regarding payment policy and health care coverage, aiding in the improvement of health care delivery.  Ultimately, HSR can be used to demonstrate the value of physical therapy and identify optimal strategies for the delivery of care.

Validating the necessity and cost-effectiveness of physical therapy has been an ongoing need in physical therapy research. The community was particularly inspired after the 43rd Mary McMillan Lecture, “Face into the Storm,” which was presented to attendees at the NEXT Conference & Exposition in 2012. Alan M. Jette, PT, MPH, PhD, FAPTA, called on members of the profession to take a front-seat role and become proactive in devising, implementing, and evaluating health policy and cost-effective healthcare.

The Foundation, driven by the vision of the Board of Trustees and supported by generous donors like APTA, conducted an unprecedented campaign to raise funds for health services research and training. In December of 2014, the Foundation officially awarded $2.5 million — our largest research grant to date — to establish CoHSTAR.

CoHSTAR is directed by a Leadership and Administrative Core (LAC) and guided by an External Advisory Board. CoHSTAR includes a Research Career Training Program Core (RCTPC), a Pilot Studies Core (PSC), and an Evaluation and Dissemination Core (EDC).

The LAC is based at Brown University School of Public Health and housed within the Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research. Dr. Resnik serves as principal investigator and LAC director. The 6-person CoHSTAR External Advisory Board assists in strategic planning, prioritizing focus areas for pilot study funding and recruitment of trainees.

The RCTPC is led by Vincent Mor, PhD at Brown University. The aim of the RCTPC is to provide training for postdoctoral trainees and visiting scientists in health services research for physical therapists that will guide their career development as health services researchers.

Kelley Fitzgerald, PT, PhD and Anthony Delitto, PT, PhD at the University of Pittsburgh are leading the PSC. The aims of the PSC are to solicit pilot study applications relevant to physical therapy, select outstanding pilot projects for funding, provide oversight/data safety and quality monitoring of ongoing pilot projects, help investigators translate pilot projects into full scale research grant applications for extramural funding, and monitor the progress and success of the PSC.

The EDC is led by Alan Jette, PT, PhD, and Mary Slavin, PT, PhD at Boston University. The aims of the EDC are to develop and implement a comprehensive evaluation framework to assess CoHSTAR activities, communicate with core directors and coordinate improvement activities as needed, ensure that program information is optimally disseminated to target audiences, and enhance the impact and sustainability of CoHSTAR activities.

Program Information

CoHSTAR offers a range of fellowship opportunities, including faculty fellowships (some co-sponsored with other organizations), postdoctoral fellowships, and predoctoral fellowships.

Learn more about CoHSTAR fellowships.

The CoHSTAR Pilot Study Program provides funding for pilot research in areas related to physical therapy health services research. The pilot studies may be designed to provide preliminary data that will support larger subsequent funding efforts, or develop infrastructure (new instruments, data registries, etc.) needed to pursue physical therapy health services research questions. Every year, CoHSTAR sponsors several pilot studies that address physical therapy health services research questions in these 3 areas of specialization:

  1. analysis of large data sets,
  2. rehabilitation outcome measurement, and
  3. implementation science and quality assurance research.

Read more about current pilot projects, or see information regarding a pilot study application.

CoHSTAR holds annual Health Services Institutes. Learn more about CoHSTAR conferences.


Check Out CoHSTAR’s Year 7 Annual Report


“What CoHSTAR has been able to do in just 3 short years is so impressive. Their work will, among other things, ensure a steady pool of PT scientists who are properly trained to conduct health services research and to compete for the funding to do so.”

Sharon L. Dunn, PT, PhD, Immediate Past President, American Physical Therapy Association

“CoHSTAR offers unique advanced experiences with senior health services researchers at its [trio of collaborating institutions] that have a wealth of experience in conducting pilot studies to large pragmatic clinical trials… Only a scarce number of physical therapist researchers had been involved in health services research, but over the past 4 years this has definitely changed. CoHSTAR is bringing to light the opportunities that health services research can provide to investigators.”

Adam P. Goode, PT, DPT, PhD, CoHSTAR's First Faculty Fellow

“Because of the paucity of physical therapy health services research, we lack evidence about effectiveness, comparative effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of physical therapy. CoHSTAR will develop a cadre of physical therapy scientists who can conduct health services and health policy research to address our gaps in knowledge in these and other important areas.”

Linda Resnik, PT, PhD, CoHSTAR's Principal Investigator and Director, Brown University