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

What Is the Research Process?

The Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs) use rigorous methods and guidelines to develop systematic reviews on the effectivess or comparative effectiveness of a test, procedure, or treatment. Researchers review clinical research and clinical trials, along with other research studies, to answer the key questions.

These are the steps used by the EPCs to synthesize, and translate evidence.

Suggestion for Research Submitted

uggestion boxEveryone has an opportunity to submit suggestions for research to the Program. Suggestions are posted online and reviewed and prioritized by the Program staff.


Research Started

Accepted suggestions are developed into a topic for a research review -- a synthesis of existing evidence.


Key Questions Posted and Available for Public Comment

key questions posted on line for public commentIf a research review is initiated, a set of key questions is posted and available for public comment. The key questions are meant to guide the review process and facilitate the extraction of relevant information.


Draft Report Available for Public Comment

draft comment posted online for public commentUpon completion of a research review, a draft report is produced. The draft report is published online for approximately 4 weeks and is available for public comment. The public’s comments are reviewed and considered for incorporation into the final report. The draft report is removed from the Web site once the comment period is finished.

Final Report Published

final report publishedUpon completion of the research review, a final report is developed. It is published online along with an executive summary of the report. For some reports, brief summaries of the key findings are developed for different audiences, including patients and consumers, clinicians, or policymakers. These summaries are developed and revised based on audience feedback and external review.