How Are Research Topics Chosen?
All suggestions for research are carefully considered. However, the Program uses a set of factors to assign priority to certain topics.
Health-Care Service Priorities
Priority is given to health-care services that:
- Impose high costs on Medicare, Medicaid, or the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
- May be overutilized or underutilized.
- May significantly improve the prevention, treatment, or cure of diseases and conditions that impose high direct or indirect costs on patients or society.
- Places a great burden on people, especially those who are “priority populations” as identified by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
Patient Population Priorities
Priority is also given to suggestions that focus on certain patient populations, including:
- Low-income groups.
- Minority groups.
- The elderly.
- Individuals with special health-care needs, such as those with disabilities, those who need chronic care or end-of-life care, or those who live in inner-city and rural areas.
Priority is given to research topics that focus on certain medical conditions. The list of medical conditions given priority for research are:
- Arthritis and nontraumatic joint disorders (Muscle, bone, and joint conditions)
- Cancer (Cancer)
- Cardiovascular disease, including stroke and hypertension (Heart and blood vessel conditions)
- Dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease (Brain and nerve conditions)
- Depression and other mental health disorders (Mental health)
- Developmental delays, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism (Developmental delays, ADHD, autism)
- Diabetes mellitus (Diabetes)
- Functional limitations and disability (Functional limitations and physical disabilities)
- Infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS (Infectious diseases and HIV/AIDS)
- Obesity (Obesity)
- Peptic ulcer disease and dyspepsia (Digestive system conditions)
- Pregnancy, including preterm birth (Pregnancy and childbirth)
- Pulmonary disease/asthma (Breathing conditions)
- Substance abuse (Alcohol and drug abuse)
Additional Selection Criteria
The list below provides additional 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.
- Relevant to 1013 enrollees (Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, and other Federal health-care programs).
- Represents one of the priority health conditions designated by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
- Represents a significant disease burden; affects a large proportion or priority population (e.g., children, elderly adults, low-income, rural/inner city, minorities, or other individuals with special health-care or access issues).
- Is of high public interest; affects health care decisionmaking, outcomes, or costs for a large proportion of the U.S. population or for a priority population in particular.
- 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 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 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 patient subgroups).
- Addresses a topic that has clear implications for resolving important dilemmas in health and health care decisions made by one or more stakeholder groups.