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Effective Health Care Program

Presentation of Future Research Needs

Research Report

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This report is from AHRQ's Future Research Needs – Methods Research Series.

Structured Abstract

Objective

To recommend a more standardized and systematic approach to presenting and organizing future research needs in Future Research Needs (FRN) documents.

Methods

A workgroup representing five Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs) that are engaged in future research needs work reviewed prior effort on this topic and prepared a set of draft recommendations and frameworks, which were circulated to the remaining EPCs. Feedback on the working version was obtained from the EPC program at the May 2011 EPC meeting. All feedback was incorporated into the final report.

Findings

The workgroup developed separate frameworks for methods-related FRN recommendations and topic-specific FRN recommendations. Examples of methods-related issues include design issues, actions that facilitate the aggregation of results, inclusion of multiple disciplinary perspectives, and subgroup analysis. For topic-related FRNs, the PICOTS (Patient, Intervention, Comparator, Outcomes, Timing, and Setting) formulation should be used for each topic. The level of detail in presenting FRN recommendations will vary with the topic. Research in some areas may have sufficiently developed to the point where the gap can be precisely defined. EPCs should exercise judgment in determining the level of detail based on their understanding of the state of the science. The FRN should be presented in tiers rather than as a numerical ranking and should include a clear rationale for prioritization, based on considerations such as societal burden, feasibility, and likelihood of effect. An analytic framework should be used, if possible, and may be adapted. Specific recommendations for research design considerations should be made judiciously and framed as suggestions. Like the description of the future research need, the detail for these research design considerations may vary with the circumstance and topic. The executive summary should include the FRNs with the rationale for prioritization, without the PICOTS or research design considerations.