AHRQ focuses on generating evidence to improve healthcare quality by making health care more patient-centered, safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable.
AHRQ developed the Methods Guide for Effectiveness and Comparative Effectiveness Reviews both for researchers conducting reviews for Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs) and for other researchers conducting systematic reviews. The guide is a thorough outline of the important steps in performing such reviews to inform health care decisions. It is intended for researchers who have previously conducted reviews and have proficiency in statistics and epidemiology.
AHRQ produced Developing a Protocol for Observational Comparative Effectiveness Research: A User's Guide to advise researchers on how to design observational CER studies. The guide covers important topics such as selecting data sources, choosing comparators, defining outcomes, and measuring heterogeneity of treatment effects. The guide is useful for researchers designing an observational CER study. Experience with observational research is helpful but is not required to understand the material.
The HMD provides guidance on health and medicine to government decision makers and the public. The HMD produced Finding What Works in Health Care: Standards for Systematic Reviews to develop standards for systematic reviews of comparative effectiveness of interventions. The report makes recommendations covering all the important steps for conducting systematic reviews. It is more accessible than the AHRQ Methods Guide for individuals lacking experience with systematic reviews. Additionally, the report includes recommendations that are relevant to all researchers conducting systematic reviews, regardless of their prior experience.
The HMD also developed the report: Initial National Priorities for Comparative Effectiveness Research. It explores 100 recommended national priorities for comparative effectiveness research. While the report was released in 2009, it is still commonly referenced and useful for identifying gaps in the literature.
PCORI generates research guided by patients, providers, and the healthcare community that improves patients and providers’ understanding of treatment alternatives and the evidence basis for the alternatives to inform healthcare decisions.
The PCORI Methodology Report sets standards for the analysis and reporting of patient-center outcomes research (PCOR). The report also provides examples of research that has incorporated the standards and how the research has informed patient and provider decisions. The report is beneficial for individuals applying for PCORI funding or interested in learning more about PCOR.
PCORI's Methodology Standards can serve as a useful ‘minimal standard checklist’ for proposals. Developing and improving the science and methods of patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) is a central part of PCORI’s work. Better methods will produce more valid, trustworthy, and useful information that will lead to better healthcare decisions and, ultimately, to improved patient outcomes. PCORI considers the accomplishment of developing, refining, and finalizing these standards to be a critical step in advancing the field of PCOR.
PCORnet is a network of hospitals, health plans, patients, and providers that share data for the purpose of conducting observational and experimental CER. It is currently in its initial stages of development. In addition to the research it will generate, PCORnet will provide lessons for other institutions seeking to share clinical data across a network of institutions. PCORnet will be of interest to researchers engaging in multi-site CER and data sharing and can use it to identify best practices.
PCORI produced the PCORI Patient and Family Engagement Rubric to support researchers in how to engage patients and family members when conducting research. The rubric includes best practices for engagement identified from the initial rounds of PCORI awards. Individuals applying for PCORI funding or seeking to improve patient and family engagement in a current trial should review the rubric.
Health Care Research Networks
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Collaboratory is a network of health care systems that improve the ability to conduct large-scale research studies. The NIH Collaboratory website includes resources for how to conduct clinical research across multiple sites and examples of NIH Collaboratory research projects. The NIH Collaboratory serves as another example of a network of health systems that collaboratively conduct CER. The NIH Collaboratory website will also appeal to researchers engaging in multi-site CER. They should review the website to understand how research is accomplished among institutions as part of the NIH Collaboratory.
The HMO Research Network is a group of health systems that share clinical data to conduct research and quality improvement. The website includes resources on the process for sharing data between systems and how researchers conduct CER using the data. The HMO Research Network is another example of a network of health systems working collaboratively to conduct CER. The HMO Research Network serves as another example of multi-site research and the resources are helpful for researchers engaging in this type of CER.
The Division of Pharmacoepidemiology & Pharmacoeconomics at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Harvard Medical School web site has a series of methods webinars recordings of the Fourth Symposium on Comparative Effectiveness Research Methods (June 12-13, 2012). The webinars cover methodological challenges and new approaches. The symposium had the theme “From Efficacy to Effectiveness” and focused on research methods for efficacy and effectiveness studies for CER. Both resources are useful for researchers interested in learning more about how to address research challenges and new methods. The presentations cover a range of difficulty levels: Some of them are accessible to a broad audience, while others require knowledge of statistics and epidemiology.
Academy Health’s Evidence, Data and Methods (EDM) Forum supports education and collaboration for CER involving electronic health data. The website includes webinars and briefs on the challenges and opportunities of using electronic health data for CER and PCOR. The EDM Forum resources are useful for researchers that are interested in using electronic health records for CER and they are accessible to an audience with a wide range of experience.
The International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) has developed short reports on Good Practices for Outcomes Research. The reports cover many topics relevant to CER such as study methods for conducting observational research using secondary databases and how to use patient-reported outcomes (PRO) instruments in outcomes research. The reports are useful for researchers with some experience in outcomes research who are interested in learning best practices.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America's (PhRMA) mission is to conduct effective advocacy for public policies that encourage discovery of important new medicines for patients by pharmaceutical and biotechnology research companies.
Ohio State University College of Public Health has produced the CER Online Learning Center as a resource for training researchers in CER methodology. The Center’s website includes a series of 30 recorded modules covering major CER methods such as propensity score methods, instrumental variable (IV) methods, meta-analysis, and survival analysis. The course is useful for researchers who have limited experience in CER and are looking to gain grounding in methods.
The Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute works to support clinical and translational research. The Institute’s website includes a survey course on CER consisting of 15 recorded lectures on key topics such as decision modeling, systematic reviews and meta-analyses, and clinical trials. Like the CER Online Learning Center, this course is intended for researchers who are relatively inexperienced in CER and want to understand the basics.