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

How Are Research Topics Chosen?

All suggestions for research are carefully considered. However, the EHC Program uses a set of factors to select topics for product development.

The list below provides detail regarding the selection criteria for research topics suggested to the Program:


  • Represents a health-care drug, intervention, device, or technology available (or soon to be available) in the United States. Interventions include drugs, devices, medical tests, and mechanisms of health care delivery.


  • Represents a significant disease burden; affects a large proportion of the population.
  • Was nominated/strongly supported by one or more stakeholder groups.
  • Represents important uncertainty for decisionmakers.
  • Incorporates issues surrounding both clinical benefits and potential clinical harms.
  • Represents important variation in clinical care or controversy in what constitutes appropriate clinical care.
  • Represents high costs due to common use, high unit costs, or high associated costs to consumers, patients, health-care systems, or payers.


  • Potential for redundancy (i.e., whether a proposed topic is already covered by an available or soon-to-be available high-quality systematic review by AHRQ or others).


Effectively utilizes existing research and knowledge by considering:

  • Adequacy (type and volume) of research for conducting a systematic review.
  • Newly available evidence (particularly for updates or new technologies).

Potential Impact

  • Potential for significant health impact:
    • To improve health outcomes.
    • To reduce significant variation in clinical practices known to be related to quality of care.
    • To reduce unnecessary burden on those with health-care problems.
  • Potential for significant economic impact:
    • To reduce unnecessary or excessive costs.
  • Potential for change:
    • The proposed topic exists within a clinical, consumer, or policymaking context that is amenable to evidence-based change.
    • A product from the EHC Program could be an appropriate vehicle.
  • Potential risk from inaction:
    • Unintended harms from lack of prioritization of a nominated topic.
  • Addresses inequities, vulnerable populations (including issues for particular subgroups of people).
  • Addresses a topic that has clear implications for resolving important dilemmas in health and health care decisions made by one or more stakeholder groups.