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Institute of Medical Sociology, Health Services Research, and Rehabilitation Science

The Institute of Medical Sociology, Health Services Research, and Rehabilitation Science (IMVR) of the University of Cologne is a joint scientific institution of the Faculty of Human Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Cologne. The institute's director is Professor Dr. Holger Pfaff, who holds the professorship "Quality Development and Evaluation in Rehabilitation" of the Faculty of Human Sciences at the University of Cologne. The IMVR houses the departments Medical Sociology, Health Services Research, and Rehabilitation Science as well as the office of the Center for Health Services Research of Cologne (ZVFK).

The IMVR working groups have years of experience in empirical social research (survey methods, study design, and analysis and evaluation methods). The IMVR therefore possesses high-level expertise in planning, organizing, conducting, and analyzing studies at healthcare facilities (such as hospitals and rehabilitation centers) as well as in surveying patients, staff, and managers.

Research programs

The Medical Sociology department is home to the research program "Interaction and Organization in Healthcare". Through several projects, the program studies the interactions between patients and healthcare professionals (including physician empathy and psychosocial care) as well as those within and between occupational groups at healthcare facilities (including social capital and internal interfaces). It also focuses on examining new types of care (e.g., oncological centers and integrated care models) and topics related to health services epidemiology and social epidemiology.

The research program of the Health Services Research department is titled “Performance of healthcare organizations.” The program focuses on the organizational design of service provision in health care and investigates health services structures and processes as well as the resulting quality of outcomes. Organizational behaviors (e.g., quality, implementation, innovation, and leadership behaviors) are analyzed and suitable assessment instruments are developed and validated.

A working group in the Rehabilitation Science department conducts the research program "Work and Health". This research area examines personal, social, and work organization factors that influence health indicators (such as burnout and depression). Personal and organizational resources -- such as "work-life-balance", social capital, and work engagement -- are studied as well. The research program aims to identify protective factors and strategies that promote health. On this basis, concrete interventions on the individual and the organizational level are developed, implemented, and evaluated using qualitative and quantitative methods.

Foundation of the IMVR

The IMVR was established on September 15, 2009, on the basis of a mutual cooperation agreement between the Faculty of Human Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Cologne.

Objectives of the IMVR

Securing high-quality and efficient healthcare for the population throughout the lifespan is one of the central issues facing our society in the future. Science can contribute to solving this problem, particularly when relevant fields such as medicine, rehabilitation science, special needs education, psychology, and sociology join forces through purposeful collaboration. The Faculties of Human Science and Medicine are aware of this special challenge and strive to more closely integrate their disciplines in a problem-oriented fashion through the establishment of the IMVR. The creation of the joint professorship and the joint Institute of Medical Sociology, Health Services Research, and Rehabilitation Science (IMVR) was a concrete step in this direction. The cooperation is intended to promote interdisciplinary research and teaching in medical sociology, health services research, and rehabilitation science.