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As the nation’s leading funder of patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER), PCORI eagerly awaits Letters of Intent (LOIs) that answer patient-centered questions about health and health care. PCORI staff are always available to help with any questions an applicant or prospective applicant might have. In the meantime, here are some tips on writing a responsive LOI to get you started.

Tip 1: Understand Why an LOI Is Required.

Submitting an LOI is the first stage in a two-stage process to receiving a PCORI funding award. Unlike other CER funders, an LOI must be submitted before an organization is invited to submit a full application. Each funding opportunity is presented in a PCORI Funding Announcement (PFA), which clearly outlines requirements and expectations. PFAs may focus on a variety of topics, conditions and populations. 

Pro tip: The best way to ensure your LOI is responsive is to carefully follow the instructions of the PFA. PFAs do change from funding cycle to funding cycle sometimes, so you want to ensure you are submitting to the PFA that is the most current (and not to one that is out of date!).

Tip 2: Select the Optimal PCORI Research Funding Announcement.

PCORI funds research projects that answer patient-centered questions about health and health care.

We seek to fund CER projects that compare the effectiveness of two or more interventions or approaches to health care, examining their risks and benefits. CER findings assist clinicians, patients and other stakeholders in making informed decisions that improve health care.

We are interested in CER that examines any of the following:

  • Strategies for prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment or management of clinical conditions
  • Methods to improve delivery of care
  • Interventions to reduce or eliminate disparities in health and health care
  • Health communications techniques

Your LOI is your first opportunity to map out how your project will achieve these aims.

PCORI does not fund:

  • Research aimed primarily at developing and validating an instrument
  • Cost-effectiveness analysis measuring dollar-cost per quality-adjusted life-year
  • Comparisons that focus on the relative costs of care as the primary criterion for choosing between alternatives
  • Most projects that do not include patients or other healthcare stakeholders throughout the research process, unless they are highly technical or methodological projects

Pro tip: Explore PCORI.org to better understand what is already being funded to really ensure your particular study idea or question is not currently funded.

Tip 3: Describe All Components in the LOI.

Each PFA includes an LOI template. You are encouraged to work with your team to describe all of the LOI components in as much detail as possible. Examples of LOI components include:

  • Research question/background
  • Study population and research setting(s)
  • Comparators
  • Outcomes
  • Study design
  • Sample size, power and analytic plan
  • Engagement approach
  • Prior relevant experience of principal investigator and study team
  • Duration and total direct costs
  • References

Pro tip: LOIs are submitted by logging into PCORI Online, completing the required LOI fields for the PFA and uploading the completed PFA-specific LOI template into the system. 

Tip 4: Make Use of PCORI Resources.

For applicants who have questions about the LOI process, there are a wealth of resources available! If you need a bit more information to get started, try any one of the following ideas:

  • Look for PFA preannouncement listings – PCORI publicizes each funding opportunity via preannouncements in advance of the official release date to provide additional time to prepare, potentially identify collaborators and obtain stakeholder input on proposed study ideas.
  • Attend a Town Hall to learn more directly from PCORI staff, and potentially benefit from the questions and thoughts of other prospective applicants, as well.
  • Read these guidelines on what you need to know about submitting an application.
  • Browse our repository of all past, present and upcoming funding opportunities at any given time.
  • Take advantage of our website’s search function with highly customizable settings to find exactly what you are looking for.
  • Stream any of the dozens of past Annual Meeting sessions available for free on our website.

Pro tip: Even if you don’t have specific queries in mind, engaging with the PCORI resources at your disposal can help you write your best LOI – and maybe answer questions you didn’t even know you had!

Tip 5: Reach Out to Us Anytime!

Applicants and prospective applicants are encouraged to get in contact with PCORI staff at any time for help with the process — whether they receive an award in a particular cycle or not. PCORI exists to advance patient-centered CER, and PCORI staff are eager to support and collaborate with researchers, patients and other stakeholders who are making this work happen. Reach out! 

Pro tip: Engage early and often. Contact PCORI staff before you submit, if your LOI is accepted, in the chance it is not accepted, etc.

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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