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 said the study overemphasized a significant result, that the addition of nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT) to counseling increased abstinence and reduced cigarette use, without putting that result in the context of the non-significant results. That is, these secondary outcomes showed significant differences between the intervention groups at one time point, but those differences were not significant over time. Also, there was no evidence that one intervention group improved more over time than the other. The researchers rewrote the abstract, discussion, and conclusions to better put these results into context and in particular, group these results with other secondary outcomes rather than highlighting them out of order.
- The reviewers observed that the participants in this project differed from non-daily smokers (NDS) in other studies. The ones in this study tended to smoke more days per month and were more likely to have repeatedly and recently failed to quit smoking. Reviewers noted that the fact that the study did not detect a statistically significant treatment effect might reflect having a population that found quitting smoking harder than the average NDS population. The researchers agreed that these are important points and rewrote the discussion section to address how their sample differed from previous samples of African-American NDS.
- The reviewers expressed concern about the internal validity of the intervention because of the low and variable participant adherence with the NRT intervention. They asked the researchers to include additional discussion of how this variable adherence might affect the reproducibility and interpretation of study findings. The researchers disagreed that adherence rates were a problem for internal validity, given that participants were explicitly allowed to switch or discontinue NRT treatment. The researchers did address the low NRT adherence among study participants in several places in the report.
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