Request for Information: Science of Engagement Funding Initiative

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This page will be regularly updated with responses to frequently asked questions regarding the Science of Engagement Funding Initiative RFI.

Updated: October 28, 2021

What will the process be for making decisions about prioritizing research questions after receiving feedback?

We will use your feedback and share it internally and with our Board of Governors to shape the development of this initiative.

Will the ultimate RFPs be issued under the Engagement or Research divisions of PCORI?

SoE is a new initiative and would fund Research awards. These are different and separate from Engagement awards, which support capacity building and dissemination rather than research.

How should responses be formatted and submitted?

Please send responses in a PDF, Word document, or in the body of an email to [email protected].

What can I use the award funds for? What areas of research, types of organizations, structures and study designs, etc. will be eligible for funding?

The feedback we hear from you on all these elements will be crucial in helping PCORI shape this initiative. If there is an area of research, type of study, a process or design, or any other element that you feel is critical to fund under this initiative, we invite you to share that in your RFI response.

How will this initiative intersect with diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as with PCORI's national priorities for health?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in research are critical areas of focus and inquiry. PCORI is committed to DE&I and the SoE initiative aligns with PCORI's revised national priorities, one of which is achieving health equity. We welcome your feedback on how DE&I should be embedded in this initiative and any opportunities you see to further align with our national priorities. For example, you might include in your response that it is important to study how to successfully engage diverse and representative patients and stakeholders in research, or how engagement in research may help reduce health inequities.

What will PCORI do with the information submitted through this RFI? How will it be used or synthesized?

The information submitted through this RFI will be for internal use only. PCORI will synthesize the questions and responses with internal stakeholders to inform decisions about how to move forward with this proposed initiative.

What is the anticipated timeline for issuing funding announcements as part of the Science of Engagement (SoE) initiative?

Any potential funding opportunities would be developed incorporating input from the RFI, which closes on November 19, 2021. The content and timing of potential funding opportunities would be discussed and approved at a PCORI Board of Governors meeting. Board meetings are open to the public and would be the best place to access evolving information about the potential funding initiative. Board meeting agendas are made available on the Meetings and Events page on PCORI’s website before each meeting, and meetings recordings are posted on the meeting event page following each meeting, for anyone unable to attend.

Research expertise for the SoE is unique. Does PCORI expect potential study teams to include an expert on the SoE?

A variety of expertise, such as scientific skills, experience in building partnerships, or engagement in patient-centeredness, is necessary for strong SoE study teams. This RFI is an opportunity for respondents to inform PCORI about what skills, stakeholders, models, and other research components they think are important for a team to include to successfully engage in SoE research.

Will this initiative address standardization of lay research training among stakeholders?

PCORI has worked to translate its current knowledge base into tools and resources for helping people understand patient-centered outcomes research and comparative clinical effectiveness research (PCOR/CER) and research in general, as well as how to work effectively together in multi-stakeholder teams. These tools — Research Fundamentals and Building Effective Multi-Stakeholder Research Teams — are free and available to the public on the PCORI website, and PCORI encourages their use across our funded projects. That said, we welcome respondent input on what focal points, questions, priorities, and areas of research would be important to include in SoE initiatives.

Will the SoE initiative include approaches to necessary engagement structures and institutions across the research enterprise, in addition to those focused at the level of individual research partnerships and projects?

PCORI’s training resources provide guidance for engaging not only patients but all stakeholders, including institutions. We welcome respondent input on what focal points, questions, priorities, and areas of research would be important to include in SoE initiatives. PCORI also invites feedback on what measurements need to be developed to encompass these priorities.

How is other, non-patient, stakeholder engagement included in this initiative?

PCORI values engagement of all stakeholders (clinicians, community members, healthcare purchasers, payers, industry, hospitals and other health systems, policy makers, training institutions, and researchers) in health and health care. This RFI invites respondents to share priorities for what should be reflected in a potential SoE initiative to support engagement with patients as well as other stakeholders.

Beyond what is written in the RFI, can you provide further details about a potential "study within a study" (SWAS) funding opportunity?  Would it require having an already-funded PCORI CER study?

PCORI is in the conceptual development phase for a SWAS funding opportunity. The RFI welcomes your input on potential processes and approaches for a SWAS funding opportunity as we consider the best ways to implement and execute and make them feasible.

What merit review criteria does PCORI anticipate using to evaluate eventual proposals for this initiative?

The merit review criteria for any future opportunities would be developed in conjunction with a full PCORI Funding Announcement (PFA). We welcome input on all aspects that would facilitate a successful funding initiative including the merit review criteria. PCORI’s general merit review criteria can be found here.

How does PCORI define "successful engagement"?

From PCORI's perspective, successful engagement can have multiple elements: the method or approach taken is appropriate for the purpose and stakeholders being engaged, its influence and/or impact on both the project and the individuals participating in the research, and that it adheres to guiding principles (such as those laid out in the PCORI Engagement Rubric). It is, however, a nuanced concept that may vary by study or community. PCORI invites respondents’ perspectives on what "successful engagement" means to them.

What has PCORI learned about engagement challenges on CER projects?

PCORI has learned that teams take a variety of approaches to engagement, some of which are more successful than others, from the perspective of those involved. Less "successful" approaches contribute to PCORI’s understanding of what challenges to engagement may be and possible ways to address them and contribute to resources for navigating similar experiences in future work.

Is there a place where PCORI has collected/made available the current evidence on engagement?

Much of the current evidence on engagement has been incorporated into the RFI itself (see footnotes for references). PCORI also supports the Engagement in Health Research Literature Explorer which is a searchable, curated database of engagement literature. PCORI’s Engagement Resources are also derived from current evidence.

Does PCORI distinguish between research on patient preferences and research on patient engagement?

There is a relationship between patient engagement and patients achieving their preferences/making the best decision for them in clinical practice. While PCORI welcomes input and lessons learned from across the field, this SoE initiative is focused specifically on engagement throughout the research process, meaning the involvement of patients and stakeholders as partners in research. Projects to assess patient preferences would likely be qualitative research and not under the scope of this initiative. PCORI would welcome projects that, for example, test engagement methods that most effectively ensure patient-centeredness of studies and include patient preferences as factors considered in study design.


For questions and inquiries about this RFI, please email [email protected].

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