Results Summary and Professional Abstract
Peer review of PCORI-funded research helps make sure the report presents complete, balanced, and useful information about the research. It also assesses how the project addressed PCORI’s Methodology Standards. During peer review, experts read a draft report of the research and provide comments about the report. These experts may include a scientist focused on the research topic, a specialist in research methods, a patient or caregiver, and a healthcare professional. These reviewers cannot have conflicts of interest with the study.
The peer reviewers point out where the draft report may need revision. For example, they may suggest ways to improve descriptions of the conduct of the study or to clarify the connection between results and conclusions. Sometimes, awardees revise their draft reports twice or more to address all of the reviewers’ comments.
Peer reviewers commented, and the researchers made changes or provided responses. The comments and responses included the following:
Reviewers noted that this study did not demonstrate a difference between interventions in the planned analyses, and that the additional analyses the researchers performed did not have a clear rationale. Reviewers expressed concern that the report put too much emphasis on the results of these additional analyses in drawing conclusions. The researchers agreed and removed discussion of the post hoc as well as any language in the report indicating superiority of the more intensive intervention.
Reviewers asked about the potential effects of unmeasured variables in the study, such as behavioral activation and health-related motivation, noting that these factors could be influencing intervention outcomes. The researchers agreed, adding some of these factors to their theoretical model, (Figure 1) of the intervention pathways. They also expanded their discussion of study limitations to address how these factors [MS1] may have affected cancer screening behavior and reduced the differences between interventions.
Reviewers wondered at the assertion that study subjects received high-quality care from the outset, with little room for major improvement, given the apparently low cancer-screening rates and high depression scores of study participants. The researchers said they defined high- quality care based [MS1] on these offices having well-established systems for cancer screening and mental health services, and on study participants being established patients of their practices, on average for three years.
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