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New Model Employed To Prioritize Research on Uterine Fibroids

A one-day conference prioritizing research on Uterine Fibroids piloted a new collaborative approach by the Effective Health Care (EHC) Program of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in determining future research agendas. “Research on the Comparative Management of Uterine Fibroid Disease,” held in Rockville, Maryland on March 4, brought together a broad group of researchers, clinicians, and consumer advocates to explore and prioritize the unanswered questions surrounding the evaluation, management, and treatment of uterine fibroids. Their discussions produced a prioritized research agenda that will be made available to the greater community of researchers, policymakers, and consumers concerned with women’s reproductive health and uterine fibroid disease. The event was planned and facilitated by the DEcIDE (Developing Evidence to Inform Decisions and Effectiveness) Network, Outcome Sciences, Inc., and the Center for Medical Technology Policy (CMTP).

The meeting sought to accomplish five goals: (1) to identify clinical areas for new research in the care of uterine fibroid disease to support treatment decisionmaking; (2) to identify the clinically and policy relevant research questions related to clinical and comparative effectiveness of uterine fibroid treatment and management; (3) to propose and design a research protocol for a multicenter prospective study of the comparative effectiveness of diagnostic tools, management strategies, coordinated care, and treatments of uterine fibroids; (4) to discuss a preliminary analysis of existing data to inform protocol development and to assess the research questions identified by stakeholders; and (5) to synthesize a prospective multi-stakeholder research agenda for uterine fibroid disease from the findings of the project research-prioritization process and to disseminate it to stakeholder partners and other stakeholder groups.

While collaboration with multiple stakeholders is not new to the Effective Health Care Program, the March 4 event offered a novel approach to prioritizing a broad research agenda for a priority condition. Attendees of this conference included representatives from public and private payers, Federal agencies, patient/consumer groups, foundations, product developers, and professional societies, together with researchers from AHRQ’s Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPC). The group discussed and prioritized each of the research questions, producing a final list that identifies the research question of highest priority in the field of uterine fibroid disease. A final discussion explored the feasibility of studies and research-design issues for the questions of highest priority.

Now with four of the five goals achieved, the final goal — dissemination of the findings — is underway. The prioritized research questions and records of the discussions form the foundation of a white paper describing the broad research agenda. Researchers will have new insight and guidance to generating evidence about the management of uterine fibroids. The EHC Program has adopted this process as a working model for future projects.