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Interfield dysbalances in research input and output benchmarking: Visualisation by density equalizing procedures

Author(s): Groneberg-Kloft Beatrix | Kreiter Carolin | Welte Tobias | Fischer Axel | Quarcoo David | Scutaru Cristian

Journal: International Journal of Health Geographics
ISSN 1476-072X

Volume: 7;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 48;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Abstract Background Historical, social and economic reasons can lead to major differences in the allocation of health system resources and research funding. These differences might endanger the progress in diagnostic and therapeutic approaches of socio-economic important diseases. The present study aimed to assess different benchmarking approaches that might be used to analyse these disproportions. Research in two categories was analysed for various output parameters and compared to input parameters. Germany was used as a high income model country. For the areas of cardiovascular and respiratory medicine density equalizing mapping procedures visualized major geographical differences in both input and output markers. Results An imbalance in the state financial input was present with 36 cardiovascular versus 8 respiratory medicine state-financed full clinical university departments at the C4/W3 salary level. The imbalance in financial input is paralleled by an imbalance in overall quantitative output figures: The 36 cardiology chairs published 2708 articles in comparison to 453 articles published by the 8 respiratory medicine chairs in the period between 2002 and 2006. This is a ratio of 75.2 articles per cardiology chair and 56.63 articles per respiratory medicine chair. A similar trend is also present in the qualitative measures. Here, the 2708 cardiology publications were cited 48337 times (7290 times for respiratory medicine) which is an average citation of 17.85 per publication vs. 16.09 for respiratory medicine. The average number of citations per cardiology chair was 1342.69 in contrast to 911.25 citations per respiratory medicine chair. Further comparison of the contribution of the 16 different German states revealed major geographical differences concerning numbers of chairs, published items, total number of citations and average citations. Conclusion Despite similar significances of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases for the global burden of disease, large input and output imbalances have been revealed in the present study which point to a need for changes in funding policies. The present study supplies data that could be used for decision making in the field of health systems funding.

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