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:
- The reviewers said the study should emphasize the lack of significant effects in the primary outcome measure before discussing any significant findings in secondary outcomes. The researchers updated the report to do so.
- The reviewers noted that given the large number of secondary outcomes measured, positive results should be interpreted with caution. In particular, they expressed concern because the analyses for these outcomes were not adjusted for multiple comparisons. The researchers revised the report to highlight null results and introduce additional notes of caution.
- The reviewers recommended including additional detail to help explain the meaningfulness of the results, beyond stating the statistical significance with a P value. The researchers added 95% confidence intervals for the key outcome estimates, providing more precision around the significance of the results. The researchers noted that many of their patient-reported scales did not have clinically relevant units that could be reported.
- Some reviewers expressed concern that the study encouraged chronic care patients to curtail opioid use, which might not be clinically appropriate. The researchers responded that their intervention did not make clinical recommendations and did not aim to discourage opioid use. The researchers explained that instead they aimed to empower patients to communicate with providers and explore alternative ways to manage pain. The researchers said they used input from patient advisors in trying to develop a balanced curriculum for their intervention.
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