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Celebrating 25 Years of AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center Program

25 Years of AHRQ's Evidence-Based Practice Center Program - Synthesizing Evidence to Support Healthcare Decisionmaking logo AHRQ’s Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) Program has established a unique role in ongoing efforts to improve healthcare quality in America. The EPCs, housed at universities, medical centers, and research institutions, synthesize scientific evidence and produce comprehensive reports to—

  • Inform improvements in clinical practice.
  • Guide healthcare policymaking.
  • Identify future research needs.

The EPC program began its work in December 1996, when it first requested nominations from the public on research topics to address. The program was formally introduced on June 25, 1997, in a press release by then–Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala. The first 12 institutions designated as AHRQ EPCs were recognized in the release. A list of 12 initial research projects assigned to the EPCs was announced later that year. Since its launch, the EPC program has produced more than 800 reports that reviewed and evaluated the evidence on topics ranging from treatments for heart disease to cancers to mental health conditions. Report findings have been instrumental in the development of clinical practice guidelines, coverage decisions, research agendas, quality measures, and educational materials.

Today’s EPCs are the backbone of AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program, producing evidence reports on medications, devices, and other healthcare services. Its research projects are conducted in partnership with Federal agencies and private-sector entities.

EPC Program by the Numbers

  • $325
    mil
    • Invested in AHRQ's EPC Program
      Since its inception, about $325 million has been invested in AHRQ’s EPC Program. Allocations from partner agencies have accounted for about 25 percent of that total.
  • 38
    • Federal partners
      Development of EPC reports has involved 38 Federal partners, including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Agriculture, and Congress.
  • 66
    • Private-sector partners
      Development of EPC reports has involved 66 private-sector partners, most notably professional societies (such as the American College of Physicians) and healthcare systems (such as Kaiser Permanente).
  • 200+
    • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statements
      EPC reports support Task Force recommendations on topics ranging from interventions for tobacco smoking cessation to taking statins to screening for colorectal cancer.
  • 200+
    • Clinical practice guidelines issued by partners
      Among partners who used reports for guidelines: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • 35
    • National Coverage Determinations by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
      EPC reports informed coverage for ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, acupuncture for osteoarthritis, and other interventions.
  • 40
    • National Institutes of Health research prioritization meetings
      Discussions included findings from reports on multivitamins for chronic disease prevention, hydroxyurea for sickle cell, cesarean delivery, and suicide prevention.
  • 800+

The AHRQ Evidence Review enabled us to move quickly into developing recommendations for practice.

Dr. Tamara Haegerich
co-author of the 2016 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain

AHRQ-sponsored [systematic evidence reviews]…are critical to the program’s goals of identifying research gaps and shaping a research agenda for high-impact, complex public health topics.

Carrie Klabunde, Ph.D.
Senior Advisor for Disease Prevention, NIH-ODP

We're all urgently seeking ways to prevent dementia and cognitive decline with age, but we must consider the strength of evidence -- or lack thereof -- in making decisions about personal and public investments in prevention. I am grateful for the National Academies' and AHRQ's careful reviews, which recognize the progress research has made in beginning to answer such questions, while pointing the way for additional studies. This report will be very instructive for what we can tell the public now, as critical research continues.

Richard J. Hodes, MD
NIA Director

Grand Rounds

In recognition of the EPC program’s 25th anniversary, AHRQ’s Evidence-based Practice Center Division hosted grand rounds on topics related to current and future efforts to advance the synthesis and use of evidence.

April 21, 2022

In a discussion about the future of evidence synthesis, topic experts discussed using lessons learned from the last 25 years to inform efforts in the years ahead. Carolyn Clancy, M.D., former Director of AHRQ and current Assistant Under Secretary for Health for the Veterans Administration, offered the keynote presentation, “Past as Prologue: Lessons Learned from the Past to Inform the Future.” (1 hour, 20 minutes)

 

June 9, 2022

As part of a session focused on “Evidence Synthesis in Practice and Policy,” keynote speaker Neil Powe, M.D. M.P.H., M.B.A., Professor of Medicine and Chief, Medicine Service at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, recounted how his previous leadership of an EPC shaped and informed his subsequent roles in practice leadership. (1 hour, 20 minutes)

 

November 10, 2022

In the final session, Evelyn Whitlock, M.D., M.P.H., former EPC Director at Kaiser Permanente and former Chief Science Officer at PCORI, shared how her experiences with primary research as well as her methodological work in the EPC program were reflected later in her leadership as a research funder. (57 minutes)

 

Page last reviewed December 2022
Page originally created October 2022

Internet Citation: Celebrating 25 Years of AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center Program. Content last reviewed December 2022. Effective Health Care Program, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
https://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/about/epc-25-years

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