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 asked for more information about where, how, and what type of empirical data the researchersused for testing the analytical methods. The reviewers asked that the report include a description of the patients, their outcomes, and follow-up. The researchers added a brief description about the data collected from a prospective cohort of patients from the Cleveland Clinic between 1997 and 2007, including a reference to the publication that documents these details.
- The reviewers asked the researchers to explain how they felt that absolute values led to greater fidelity in discovering treatment effects, when these can also be biased in observational data. The researchers explained that at the time of writing they had meant that using absolute values could lead to more success in identifying subgroups with differential responses. However, by the end of the study they no longer agreed with this argument, so they removed the reference to absolute values from the report. The researchers noted that they had instead moved from finding subgroups to getting good individual-specific estimates of treatment response.
- The reviewers asked for a fuller discussion of individual uncertainty around the individual treatment effect estimate, indicating that the range of uncertainty was quite large in practice due to small numbers of observations. The researchers acknowledged that this was a major limitation of the study and expanded their discussion on this with references to recently published approaches for assessing uncertainty in individual treatment effect estimates.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures
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