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 noted that the setting of the study may affect how broadly the study’s findings apply. Specifically, Massachusetts has strong programs for ensuring access to health insurance that are not available in other states. The researchers added to the limitations section by noting that the results may not be generalizable to other settings since they conducted this study in a single urban safety net hospital and all patients had health insurance coverage.
- The reviewers said that the study intervention and the experiences of the comparator arm were not clear. Specifically, reviewers were unclear about what services the navigators were providing as part of the intervention rather than referring out. The researchers revised the descriptions of the intervention and comparator conditions in the methods section by adding more detail. They explained that the comparator group was provided with enhanced care navigation compared to patients not enrolled in the study.
- The reviewers asked for clarification on what the researchers meant by socio-legal barriers and whether these are issues that social workers, professional case managers, or lawyers can address. The researchers acknowledged that the concept is complex and revised the report to clarify what they meant by socio-legal barriers and how such barriers shape the current public health landscape. The researchers said they designed the intervention to avert acute legal crises like homelessness but also had procedures to provide patients with free help from lawyers if necessary.
Reviewers asked whether researchers conducted study analyses on the larger group of patients or only on the patients who met the original entry criteria. The researchers confirmed that the study population included only the participants who met the necessary criteria, including demonstrating at least one legal need. The researchers did not include participants with no legal needs at baseline in the analyses, but these individuals still received the full intervention in their clinics.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures
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