The Health Services Research Unit (HSRU) was delighted to host a visit from Professor Dr Holger Pfaff from the University of Cologne, Germany this month.
Professor Pfaff's research focuses on three interconnected areas: health services research, social epidemiology (sociology of health), and healthcare system design. His research visit has been led and coordinated by Professor Lorna McKee, Director of the Delivery of Care Programme in HSRU and supported by an RSE/ Caledonia visiting fellowship.
During his four week stay he worked closely with Professor McKee, co-authoring a publication on social capital and developing other linkages with colleagues within HSRU. There are plans to build mutual research training exchanges between the Universities of Aberdeen and Cologne to enhance capacity of health services research in both places. Discussions about future research collaborations on specific projects comparing health systems and coordination principles have also been central to the visit.
Professor Pfaff will return to Aberdeen in March 2015 for a further 5 weeks. Reflecting on his time in Aberdeen he said: “The experiences I have had here are extraordinary. I enjoyed the great hospitality and help of Lorna McKee and the whole staff of HSRU .
“I have been very impressed by the research excellence of HSRU. This is a role model for us in Germany concerning how to do health services research in a professional and successful way. In my mind there is great potential for future collaborations between Aberdeen and Cologne. I am really happy with my stay here and I am looking foward being back in March 2015.”
Professor McKee added: “Holger has brought immense energy, experience and vision to HSRU, and we have uncovered significant potential for future collaboration and inter-institutional working. We are honoured to have Professor Pfaff working as an Honorary Senior Research Fellow within our Unit.”
Professor Pfaff has been chairman of the German Network Health Services Research (DNVF) since 2006 and has been director of the Institute for Medical Sociology, Health Services Research, and Rehabilitation Science (IMVR) of the University of Cologne since 2009. This ‘bridge institute’ is a joint institution of the Faculties of Human Sciences and Medicine. Since 2009, he has held the professorship Quality Development and Evaluation in Rehabilitation, which is responsible for the teaching fields Medical Sociology (Faculty of Medicine) and Quality Development in Rehabilitation (Faculty of Human Sciences.) Professor Pfaff is also a committee member of the German Science Foundation, a major research funding organisation.