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In the ever-changing world of health care policy, evidence is needed to demonstrate efficacy and guide legislation. Because policy makers rely on health services research (HSR) to make decisions regarding the health system in the United States, it is vital that HSR provide the information necessary to improve the delivery of healthcare in all disciplines, including that provided by the physical therapy profession.

It has been 5 years since the Foundation for Physical Therapy conducted an unprecedented campaign to raise funds to support a 5 year, $2.5 million grant for HSR and training.  Due to the steadfast support of our donors, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees awarded the Center on Health Services Research and Training (CoHSTAR) grant in 2015. Not only does this grant provide funding for fellowships, pilot studies and visiting scientists at its three collaborating institutions, but it also supports annual HSR workshops.

COHSTAR recently held its 3rd HSR Institute at Boston University in collaboration with the Center for Large Data Research & Data Sharing in Rehabilitation (CLDR), a consortium of researchers headquartered at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Attended by nearly 100 people, this year’s workshop brought together researchers from various rehabilitation disciplines for the sole purpose of improving the quality of care in physical therapy. CoHSTAR’s Principal Investigator, Linda Resnik, PT, PhD, FAPTA, described this 2- day event held in Boston, MA. as “a unique opportunity for attendees to learn about quality initiatives from nationally known thought leaders, deepen their understanding of health services research methods, and develop collegial relationships within and across disciplinary boundaries.”

Furthermore, the Foundation’s commitment to supporting scientifically based, clinically relevant research continues to grow. Thanks to a generous contribution by APTA, a $50,000 Health Services Research Pipeline Grant is currently open for applications. This grant will examine mechanisms by which patients obtain physical therapy-related health care, how much such care costs, and what outcomes are observed in these patients.

In 2017, the APTA supported Health Services Research Pipeline Grant was awarded to Kenneth J. Harwood, PT, PhD, CIE, an associate professor in the School of Medicine & Health Sciences at The George Washington University. His project titled, “The Effects of Timing of Physical Therapy on Health Care Costs, Utilization, and Opioid Use” seeks to investigate how the timing of physical therapy care and provider mix affects healthcare costs, utilization and short- and long-term opioid use using a national sample of lower back pain private insurance claims.

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