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. Those comments and responses included the following:
- The reviewers questioned the adequacy of the multivariable models of the choice of breast cancer treatments, breast conserving surgery versus radiation therapy. The researchers acknowledged that there were some unmeasured factors, such as previous hormone use and availability of radiation oncology services, that could influence women’s decision making. They noted in their limitations that the study did not include these factors as potential confounders.
- The reviewers expressed concern about the low rate of reporting of estrogen receptor (ER) status, 14 percent, in the data set, given the results showing the association of ER status with the occurrence of contralateral breast cancer. The reviewers noted the possibility that this association was invalid given the amount of missing data for ER status. They also noted the possibility of this association being invalid given the potential for a difference in the women for whom ER status was known and the women whose ER status was unknown. The researchers acknowledged that the lack of additional information on ER status limited the conclusions that could be made from these results. However, they also noted that although testing for ER status varied systematically based on the sophistication of specific clinics or regions, there was no reason to believe that the consequent systematic selection of patients for ER testing would bias the clinical characteristics of ER positive versus ER negative cases.
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