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AHRQ--Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Advancing Excellence in Health Care

What Are Key Questions?

A research report is an answer to a set of questions. The questions may be about how different tests or treatments work or how they compare to one another. These “key questions" tell the researchers what to look for in the evidence. Key questions help make sure that the research stays focused on the findings that patients, clinicians, and health care policymakers need to make good decisions.

For example, the researchers may want to study the evidence about the different treatments available for people with acid reflux disease. A team of experts, researchers, and others think through the important issues for people with this condition. The team then makes a list of questions that are most relevant to all patients, clinicians, and policymakers. They will make sure the questions reflect as many of the available treatments for acid reflux disease as possible, the benefits of these treatments for different groups of people, and the possible side effects of each treatment for different groups of people.

Public comment on these questions helps the researchers and experts think about what is most important to ask so that the research is as useful as possible.