Center for Health Services Research

112 Paterson Street, 3rd floor


Established through a Rutgers University Academic Excellence Fund in 2004, the Center for Health Services Research fosters collaborative, interdisciplinary research on a range of topics across health services, systems, and policies. The Center is directed by Dr. Stephen Crystal, Distinguished Research Professor in the School of Social Work and Board of Governors Professor of Health Services Research at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research

The Center employs a population health perspective to examine the complex factors and processes within health care systems and communities that shape the use of health services and treatments. Research often centers on vulnerable populations, including those subjected to disadvantage and stigma as well as those receiving publicly funded health care through Medicaid and Medicare. Deep expertise in the utilization of large health care datasets (e.g., nationally representative health care claims with linkages to the National Death Index and community health resource and socioeconomic data) supports the Center’s mixed methods research strategy that informs health care practices and policies to improve population health outcomes.

Recent high-impact research includes the examination of how policy, community, provider, and patient factors interact to shape initiation and retention of medications for opioid use disorder, including racial/ethnic disparities in timely use of these medications; the identification of patient, treatment, and policy factors affecting the risk of opioid overdose, including analyses of the role of state and federal policies intended to address the opioid crisis; behavioral health services and outcomes for individuals involved with the criminal legal system; the impact of the implementation of state policies to promote safe-use of antipsychotic treatment in children served by state Medicaid systems; and the effects of state oversight systems for psychotropic medication use for children in foster care.

Studies at the Center have also evaluated the impact of policy and health care system changes, such as the implementation of the Affordable Care Act on effective pharmacotherapy use and chronic care management, providing a stronger knowledge base for quality improvement of pharmacotherapy and more-effective use of medications. Additional research areas include care systems, treatment, and outcomes for people with HIV; quality of nursing home care; safe pharmacological management of individuals with dementia; and quality, outcomes, and improvement of care for people with severe mental illness, among other topics.

The Center’s multidisciplinary approach to research has resulted in important, long-standing collaborations with both internal and external partners. Internal partners include academic units within Rutgers University such as the departments of Sociology, Economics, and Statistics; Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences; the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy; the School of Nursing; Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; the School of Public Health; the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology; the School of Social Work; and the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. External partners include Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry; RWJBarnabas Health; multiple state Medicaid, mental health, and child welfare agencies; the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA); the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and many other federal agencies.

Click here to read this centers strategic plan.

Stephen Crystal, PhD