“Important but risky”: attitudes of global thought leaders towards cost and value research in health professions education

J. A. Cleland, D. A. Cook, S. Maloney, M. G. Tolsgaard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies of cost and value can inform educational decision making, yet our understanding of the barriers to such research is incomplete. To address this gap, our aim was to explore the attitudes of global thought leaders in HPE towards cost and value research. This was a qualitative virtual interview study underpinned by social constructionism. In telephone or videoconference interviews in 2018–2019, we asked global healthcare professional thought leaders their views regarding HPE cost and value research, outstanding research questions in this area and why addressing these questions was important. Analysis was inductive and thematic, and incorporated review and comments from the original interviewees (member checking). We interviewed 11 thought leaders, nine of whom gave later feedback on our data interpretation (member checking). We identified four themes: Cost research is really important but potentially risky (quantifying and reporting costs provides evidence for decision-making but could lead to increased accountability and loss of autonomy); I don't have the knowledge and skills (lack of economic literacy); it's not what I went into education research to do (professional identity); and it’s difficult to generate generalizable findings (the importance of context). This study contributes to a wider conversation in the literature about cost and value research by bringing in the views of global HPE thought leaders. Our findings provide insight to inform how best to engage and empower educators and researchers in the processes of asking and answering meaningful, acceptable and relevant cost and value questions in HPE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)989-1001
Number of pages13
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Cost and value
  • Economic theory
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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