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The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) took another critical step in developing its strategic plan to guide future research funding with the release of its proposed Research Agenda. PCORI’s Board of Governors approved posting the proposed Research Agenda for public comment at its December 2, 2021, meeting.

In line with PCORI’s original authorizing law, development of the proposed Research Agenda follows the Board’s adoption of PCORI’s National Priorities for Health, which reflect detailed stakeholder input. Establishing the National Priorities was the first step in a comprehensive strategic planning process for PCORI.

The National Priorities for Health are long-term goals that PCORI will work toward by funding comparative clinical effectiveness research and other initiatives, such as research infrastructure, stakeholder engagement awards, and dissemination and implementation projects. When finalized, the Research Agenda will provide the framework for advancing this work. It will inform PCORI’s funding of a portfolio of patient-centered research that addresses current unmet information needs of patients, caregivers, clinicians, purchasers, payers, health researchers, and other stakeholders in making personalized health and healthcare decisions across a wide range of circumstances, conditions, and interventions.


Research Agenda

Six Key Areas of Research Focus

The proposed Research Agenda states PCORI will fund research in the following areas, shown with examples of the kinds of projects that could be included in each:

Research that fills patient- and stakeholder-prioritized evidence gaps and is representative of diverse patient populations and settings
  • Studies on topics and outcomes of high relevance and value to patient and stakeholder communities that generate timely evidence to inform decisions
  • Could also relate to recruiting study participants representative of communities most affected by conditions being studied and of the diversity of the nation overall to understand potential differences in treatment effects and outcomes across populations
  • Involves investigators that reflect the population or community where the research is conducted and for whom the research is intended could also be a focal area
Research that aims to achieve health equity and eliminate health and healthcare disparities
  • Research across conditions, populations, and subpopulations on topics where disparities in health outcomes occur
  • Research on innovations for health systems that drive practice change to promote equitable care and eliminate discriminatory healthcare practices
  • Research that supports and develops the talent of diverse, early career investigators and the healthcare workforce
Research that builds the evidence base for emerging interventions by leveraging the full range of data resources and partnerships
  • Research that leverages evidence synthesis and stakeholder engagement to inform evidentiary needs of federal, state, and local policymakers and stakeholders
  • Studies may be related to research on innovations identified through relationships with federal partners
  • Research using optimized methods of data capture that are inclusive of diverse sources of real-world information (including patient-provided data) may also be explored
Research that examines the diverse burdens and clinical and economic impacts important to patients and other stakeholders
  • Research that engages patients, caregivers, and other key stakeholders in identifying important outcomes, unintended consequences, burden, and economic impacts
  • Research that assesses the full range of factors that influence health outcomes, such as patient preferences, economic issues, practice variation, and disparities in the delivery of care
Research that focuses on health promotion and illness prevention by addressing health drivers that occur where people live, work, learn, and play
  • Research in cross-sector collaboration with organizations with expertise in social determinants of health (e.g., economic stability; education access and quality; healthcare access and quality; neighborhood and built environment; social and community context)
  • Research on upstream topics such as social determinants of health, public health, and policies or programs that influence population-level health may also be considered
  • Additional areas of focus may relate to research that examines the use of and investment in health-promoting resources in the community
Research that integrates implementation science and that advances approaches for communicating evidence so the public can access, understand, and act on research findings.
  • Studies of the effectiveness of ways to get information to the right people, at the right time, in the right way that addresses cultural and other tailoring, modes of communication, and appropriate messengers for specific populations
  • Approaches for rapid dissemination of evidence to inform the immediate decisional needs of patients, clinicians, health systems, and other stakeholders may be an area of focus
  • The effectiveness of implementation strategies that have potential for accelerating the uptake of evidence into practice
  • Assessing methods for explaining uncertainty, applicability, and communicating risk, including approaches for tailoring these methods for diverse populations

The PCORI Board of Governors Strategic Planning Committee developed the proposed Research Agenda with input from stakeholders from across the US health ecosystem. It builds on PCORI’s work in its first decade, as well as the process used to develop the National Priorities for Health, and considers the public comments received on the proposed version of that elemental document. You can learn more about the proposed Research Agenda and submit feedback during the public comment period, which ends January 31, 2022, here.

Next Step: Research Project Agenda to Specify Individual Research Topics

The Research Agenda is not intended to specify individual research topics or projects. That work will be outlined in a more detailed Research Project Agenda, which will be developed as the next step in PCORI's strategic planning process. The Research Project Agenda will be continuously developed and updated through ongoing stakeholder engagement to ensure it remains relevant to the evidence needs of the patients and stakeholders PCORI serves.

Since its establishment, PCORI has played a unique role in health research by funding studies comparing which prevention, diagnostic, and treatment approaches work best, for whom, given their circumstances and preferences. With the adoption of its National Priorities for Health and the release for public comment of its proposed Research Agenda, PCORI is well on its way to charting a path that will ensure continued fulfillment of its mission. That mission focuses on generating evidence that provides patients, caregivers, clinicians, payers, purchasers, policy makers, and the public with practical, dependable, and trustworthy information to support informed decisions about health and health care that reflect their desired health outcomes.

What's Happening at PCORI?

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute sends weekly emails about opportunities to apply for funding, newly funded research studies and engagement projects, results of our funded research, webinars, and other new information posted on our site.

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