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Effective Health Care Program

EHC Program Topic Nomination and Selection

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ) Effective Health Care (EHC) Program accepts suggestions of topics for evidence reports from anyone. Representatives of major hospitals, clinicians, researchers, payers, and patients have all offered suggestions for new evidence reports.

How AHRQ Chooses Research Topics

All suggestions for evidence reports are carefully considered using the following factors to guide selection of topics for product development.

Appropriateness for the Evidence-based Practice Center Program

  • Represents a health care intervention, including drugs, devices, medical tests, and mechanisms of health care delivery available in the United States
  • The intended product of the nomination is an evidence report

Importance

  • Represents a significant disease burden; affects a large proportion of the population
  • Represents important uncertainty for decisionmakers
  • Incorporates issues surrounding both clinical benefits and potential clinical harms
  • Represents high costs due to common use, high unit costs, or high associated costs to consumers, patients, health care systems, or payers

Duplication with other evidence report efforts

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

Feasibility of a new evidence report

Effectively uses existing research and knowledge by considering adequacy (type and volume) of published literature for conducting an evidence synthesis and newly available evidence (particularly for updates or new technologies)

Potential impact of a new evidence report

  • The standard of care is unclear because of conflicting or absent guidance, indicating a gap in information that may be addressed by an evidence report
  • The topic’s uncertainty is related to practice variation which may be better addressed by implementation efforts rather than a new evidence report

Potential for change with a new evidence report

  • The proposed topic exists within a clinical, consumer, or policymaking context that is amenable to evidence-based change
  • A group could use the proposed evidence report to influence clinical practice

AHRQ's Topic Nomination Process Illustrated

This image, AHRQ's Topic Nomination Process Illustrated, is a flow chart showing the sequence of processes in the Topic Nomination process. First Box: Topic Nomination - Interested individuals or groups suggest a topic for a future evidence report. Arrow leads to second box. Second Box: Topic Nomination Assessment - The EHC Program evaluates how the topic nomination meets its selection criteria. Arrows lead to two boxes. The first is a double-ended arrow to and from Topic Nomination Development - The EHC Program requests additional information from nominator.  The second arrow leads to the third box in the decision flow. Third Box: Topic Nomination Selection - The EHC Program decides in the topic nomination will move forward for an evidence report.  The decision types are detailed in three connected boxes outside the decision flow.  The first decision reads, The topic nomination moves forwward as a systematic review.  The second decision reads, The topic nomination moves forwward as a technical brief. The third and final decision reads, The topic nomination does not move forward.  An arrow leads to the fourth and final box in the flow chart. Fourth box: Topic Nomination Publication - The EHC Program posts an assessment summary of the topic nomination on its Web site.


How AHRQ Works with Topic Nominators

During the topic development process

AHRQ may contact the topic nominator to ask additional clarifying questions about the research questions posed in the nomination and its scope if the nominator provides permission to contact him or her.

After a topic is selected

  • To help ensure that the evidence report produces information that can be used in practice, AHRQ wants to work with the nominator and others who are concerned about the topic.
  • AHRQ may contact the nominators to ask for them to submit public comments at several key stages of the evidence report, which may include the review scope, protocol, and draft report. The time commitment is limited but critical to ensuring that the report is useful.