Intended for healthcare professionals


Robert (Bob) Francis Leslie Logan

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 12 September 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4927
  1. Martin McKee
  1. London
  1. Martin.McKee{at}

Pioneered comparative health services research

Nowadays the benefits of comparing healthcare internationally are taken for granted: evidence that showed that the UK’s survival rates were worse than other countries in survival stimulated a major reform of cancer services; health professionals take overseas study tours to observe new models of care; debates on health policy usually include comparisons between countries.

Yet it was not always like this. Although it had long been known that there were national differences in how healthcare was delivered—such as the French preference for myomectomies over hysterectomies, or the German enthusiasm for treating low blood pressure—it was not considered a topic for serious research. Bob Logan, who has died at the age of 99, was one of a small group who changed this, pioneering comparative health services research in the late 1960s.

Variations in clinical practice

The origins of this kind of research lay in the UK. The 1962 Hospital Plan proposed the creation of a network of district hospitals, each serving a …

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