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 said the research described did not establish minimal important differences (MID) but provided only descriptive statistics about change scores associated with perceived change rather than statistical approaches noted in the literature to establish MID. The reviewers suggested that the authors focus on providing meaningful interpretations of change scores rather than MID, to avoid getting into a lengthy explanation of why they did not use some of the expected measures for calculating MID. The researchers explained that the methods and results related to MID were part of their funded-research plan. Therefore, they could not be deleted from the report. However, the researchers did add a statement acknowledging that some observers might have technical objections to various approaches used in the study. They also stated that they would examine other methods for estimating MID beyond the methods used in the report.
- Reviewers objected to the use of distribution-based methods for interpreting meaningful change, saying such methods indicate the amount of change but say nothing about its clinical relevance. The researchers explained that their intention in this methods-focused study was to evaluate different methods of estimating change, one of which was distribution-based methods, rather than determining the clinical relevance of that change.
- Reviewers said it was not clear why the study did not ask patients about anxiety and depression separately but instead combined them into one domain, emotions. The researchers said that they could not change the way they had asked the question in their survey but agreed that, in retrospect, perhaps they should have separated anxiety and depression. They noted that they collected information on depression and anxiety in a different part of the study, aim 2.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures
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