Background: The two-dimensional Health Research Classification System (HRCS) describes health research by the type of research undertaken (Research Activity, RA) and by the health issue or disease addressed (Health Category, HC). This is the first time HRCS has been used to classify PhD theses.
Material and methods: All 485 PhD theses within medicine and health in Norway from 2018 were coded with HRCS.
Results: Cancer and Neoplasms (12.1%), Cardiovascular (10.7%), Mental Health (10.5%) and Generic Health Relevance (9.8%) were the largest Health Categories whereas Aetiology (32.1%), Evaluation of Treatment (19.7%) and Detection and Diagnosis (13.3%) were the largest Research Activity categories.
Interpretation: There is not a perfect overlap in HRCS profiles between the new PhDs in 2018 and the projects awarded from the main research funding organisations in Norway1. In terms of Research Activities, the disparity between HRCS coded PhDs and HRCS-coded research projects is greatest for RAs: Aetiology (higher for PhDs) and Prevention (lower). While some major health challenges in Norway in DALYs like Cancer and Neoplasms, Mental Health and Cardiovascular are accordingly addressed in the PhDs 2018, the Health Categories Musculoskeletal, Respiratory and Injuries and Accidents are not.