PCORI’s reauthorizing legislation in 2019 included two new research priority areas, one of which centers on maternal mortality. This priority area provides more focused support for engaging diverse stakeholders and facilitating patient-centered outcomes research and comparative clinical effectiveness research (PCOR/CER), which are critical for understanding and addressing the needs of those impacted by issues related to this topic. The topic of maternal mortality is broad and multifaceted, containing many challenges potentially ripe for being addressed through PCOR/CER. This topic area also spans several critical junctures in the life course, including the preconception and postpartum periods.

As such, PCORI is continuing to actively explore additional opportunities for stakeholders to identify topics of interest and key research gaps and translate research results to improve patient care and maternal health outcomes. Both the Engagement Award: Capacity Building and Engagement Award: Stakeholder Convening Support funding announcements provide such an opportunity to express our special interest in receiving applications that develop, enhance/expand, or facilitate PCOR/CER that seeks to highlight or address issues focused on maternal mortality and morbidity. More information on each opportunity is provided below.

Please note: PCORI reminds prospective applicants that special areas of interest, such as maternal mortality, exist to encourage submissions on a topic, not to limit submissions to that topic only.  PCORI continues to welcome and accept Engagement Award Letters of Intent on all topics related to PCOR/CER that fall within the guidelines of the program.

Engagement Award: Capacity Building

In addition to helping organizations and community groups build capacity and skills for PCOR/CER, this Engagement Awards funding mechanism may be a useful vehicle for those seeking to engage and understand the most salient needs and issues of target stakeholder communities related to maternal morbidity and mortality. As such, efforts supported through the Engagement Awards can be used to inform future PCOR/CER that may focus on addressing the alarming rates of maternal morbidity and mortality in the United States, including those factors affecting the vulnerable subgroups evidencing the greatest disparities. (Please note that the Engagement Award program does not fund the conduct of research; funds must be used for research support activities as outlined in the funding announcement.)

This is a non-exhaustive list of topics raised by stakeholders to date which are of interest to PCORI. PCORI also welcomes ideas that are not directly addressed in these umbrella categories:

  • Building capacity for populations most likely to be impacted by maternal health inequities to engage in PCOR/CER, including some ethnic minority groups (e.g., non-Hispanic Blacks, American Indians/Alaska Natives), individuals living in rural areas, those with disabilities or chronic health conditions, and individuals representing LGBTQ+ communities)
  • Building capacity for stakeholders to engage in PCOR/CER related to:
    • Leading causes of morbidity and mortality
    • Cultural competency (e.g., among healthcare providers/systems, employers) relevant to understanding and improving maternal health outcomes
    • Mental and behavioral health (e.g., prenatal/postpartum depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, etc.)
    • Person- and/or community-centered models of care that support engaging and supporting mothers and families, including those focused on addressing sociocultural barriers to maternal health care and other relevant social determinants of health
    • Clinical care delivery and coordination, spanning the pre-conception, pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum periods

Engagement Award: Stakeholder Convening Support

As with other topics, convenings related to the maternal morbidity and mortality special area of interest should be designed with the active involvement of patient and community groups and organizations to bring diverse stakeholders together to explore issues related to PCOR/CER or communicate PCORI-funded research results to targeted end-user audiences. As such, PCORI recognizes that a variety of stakeholders should play a vital role in promoting national, state, and local improvements in maternal health, social and health equity, and ongoing tracking and monitoring of maternal outcomes.  It is notable, though, that an emphasis on efforts to engage stakeholder groups bearing the disproportionate burden of maternal morbidity and mortality (e.g., some ethnic minority groups, individuals living in rural areas, those with disabilities or chronic health conditions) are particularly welcomed through this funding opportunity.

This is a non-exhaustive list of topics raised by stakeholders to date which are of interest to PCORI. PCORI also welcomes ideas that are not directly addressed in these umbrella categories:

  • Discussing potential unique needs for research related to populations most likely to be impacted by maternal health inequities to engage in PCOR/CER, including some ethnic minority groups (e.g., non-Hispanic Blacks, American Indians/Alaska Natives), individuals living in rural areas, those with disabilities or chronic health conditions, and individuals representing LGBTQ+ communities)
  • Highlighting the importance of involving stakeholders to engage in PCOR/CER related to:
    • Leading causes of morbidity and mortality
    • Cultural competency (e.g., among healthcare providers/systems, employers) relevant to understanding and improving maternal health outcomes
    • Mental and behavioral health (e.g., prenatal/postpartum depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, etc.)
    • Person- and/or community-centered models of care that support engaging and supporting mothers and families, including those focused on addressing sociocultural barriers to maternal health care and other relevant social determinants of health
    • Clinical care delivery and coordination, spanning the pre-conception, pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum periods

Posted: February 1, 2021; Updated: August 2, 2021

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