This PCORI Funding Announcement (PFA) seeks to fund studies that build an evidence base on engagement in research, including:

  • Measures to capture structure/context, process, and outcomes of engagement in research
  • Techniques that lead to effective engagement in research
  • How effective engagement techniques should be modified and resourced for different contexts, settings, and communities to ensure equity in engagement and research

Over the past decade, PCORI has transformed how research is conducted by requiring the engagement of patients, caregivers, and stakeholders from across the broader healthcare community. Engagement in research is defined as the meaningful involvement and partnership of stakeholders throughout the research process—from planning to conducting the study, to ultimately disseminating study results.

Much has been learned about engagement in research from PCORI’s investments, yet significant evidence gaps remain. There is presently no consensus on how to define or measure engagement, and there has been little systematic study of which engagement techniques are most effective. Methods for engaging and facilitating the inclusion of historically underrepresented populations as study partners is a further critical gap.

Through 10 years of funding engaged research, PCORI has learned that engagement is a complex intervention, and there is not yet an in-depth understanding of how engagement in research produces its effects. Understanding how engagement supports successful research will advance PCORI’s National Priorities for Health. Consistent with complex health intervention frameworks and the Donabedian Structure/Context-Process-Outcomes framework, studies must first define the activities and behaviors that engagement entails—and measure them—to understand which components predict success and the causal mechanisms underlying them.

PCORI anticipates nine funding cycles for the Science of Engagement initiative, with this cycle being the third. The focus of subsequent PFAs will be updated as the evidence base grows.

Research Initiative Highlights

PCORI’s PFA on the Science of Engagement will solicit applications that focus on:

  • Development and validation of measures to capture structure/context, process, and outcomes of engagement, for both stakeholders and investigators
  • Development and testing of engagement techniques to generate evidence on the most effective engagement approaches, particularly for underrepresented populations, and how effectiveness varies by context

Initial funding will primarily focus on measure development and validation, particularly rapid measure development, leveraging opportunities to support teams that have already begun measure development work. Applicants can also adapt and validate preexisting measures created for different contexts (e.g., community-based participatory research, engagement in healthcare delivery). A smaller number of early awards will test engagement techniques using a combination of limited existing validated measures of engagement and measures of other research outcomes (e.g., participant recruitment and retention; diversity, equity, and inclusion outcomes). PCORI anticipates nine funding cycles for this initiative, with this cycle being the third. The focus of subsequent PFAs to be updated as the evidence base grows. PCORI anticipates nine funding cycles for this initiative, with this cycle being the third. The focus of subsequent PFAs will be updated as the evidence base grows.

Download Full Announcement

Key Dates

Online System Opens
May 2, 2023
Applicant Town Hall
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View Event
Letter of Intent Deadline
May 31, 2023; 5:00 pm ET
Letter of Intent Status Notification
June 27, 2023
Application Deadline
August 29, 2023; 5:00 pm ET
Merit Review
November 2023
Awards Announced
April 2024
Earliest Start Date
July 2024

Funds and Project Period

Funds Available Up To

$4.5 million

- Rapid Measurement Studies: Up to $1.5 million
- Development and Testing of Engagement Approaches: Up to $3 million
Total Direct Costs
- Rapid Measurement Studies: Up to $500,000
- Development and Testing of Engagement Approaches: Up to $1.5 million
Maximum Project Period
- Rapid Measurement Studies: Up to 24 months (2 years)
- Development and Testing of Engagement Approaches: Up to 3 years

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