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 asked for an explanation of the study design. In particular, they wanted to know why the public deliberation portion, which was qualitative, followed the quantitative randomized trial instead of preceding the trial to inform its design. The researchers explained that in this case there was enough previous research to inform the design of the randomized trial, and the results of the trial were then used to inform the public deliberation materials like presentations and the briefing book.
- The reviewers suggested that there may have been different study outcomes based on prior screening experience and encouraged the researchers to describe the sample participants’ screening history at least, if not able to stratify results by screening history. The researchers explained they did not have sufficiently reliable data on participants’ previous screening history to report these results or to stratify by screening history.
- The reviewers expressed concern that no one in the public deliberation panel had opted against colorectal cancer (CRC) screening, which made it difficult to assess whether the presentations to the panel provided a balanced view of screening. The researchers explained that while they strove to maximize the diversity of the panel members in race, age, and educational attainment, they could not assure diversity of screening attitudes. The researchers added a discussion to the report about the lack of participants in the discussion panel who had not undergone CRC screening. The researchers noted that the panel did discuss the risks of screening and why people might choose not to screen.
- The reviewers also noted that the panel was not broadly representative because only a small portion of people contacted responded to the invitation. The researchers agreed that the participants in the panel were not a random sample but noted that in selecting a small subset of the group that responded to the original invitation, care was taken to meet diversity goals. However, the researchers acknowledged selection bias in this process as a study limitation.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures
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