Project Summary

Background: When making medical decisions, people must understand and apply evidence from comparative effectiveness research to choose an option that aligns with what matters to them and to their family. The complex task of optimizing medical decisions across the lifespan requires the expertise of patients, caregivers, health professionals, policy makers, academic researchers, and other stakeholders to develop and implement methodological advancements.

Proposed Solution to the Problem: The Society for Medical Decision Making (SMDM) proposes to address this complex task at its 40th Annual Meeting, October 13-17, 2018. The theme will be “Decision Making Across the Lifespan.” The project team’s strong history of methodological expertise and scientific rigor puts it in a unique position to find commonalities across generations and use cutting-edge methods to bring scientific rigor to questions of how to make the best possible health decisions across the lifespan.

Objectives: The long-term objective is to build capacity to conduct, disseminate, and implement comparative effectiveness research in health care across all ages. The specific aims in this proposal are to:

  • Advance comparative effectiveness research methods in the interdisciplinary field of medical decision making relevant to diverse populations including women, children, minority populations, and older adults.
  • Expand the team’s forum for research methodology advancements to more specifically address areas pertinent to PCORI, notably: (a) patient engagement in research planning and end-user medical decision making across the lifespan, (b) decision making/decision support to optimize value and choice in diverse patient groups.
  • Facilitate dissemination of research findings through partnering with patients, caregivers, policy and governmental organizations, and other stakeholders.

Activities: SMDM has a number of mechanisms to foster this agenda through its Annual Meeting. These include preconference short courses (one specifically devoted to the theme and slated for PCORI support), symposia during the meeting (two slated for PCORI support: one about the role of caregivers and surrogates in medical decision making, and one about pain across the lifespan), and dissemination plans.

Outcomes and Outputs: Outputs will include a new half-day short course about patient engagement across the lifespan, increased patient involvement in SMDM’s strategic plan, and learning taken forward into the research programs of 600 attendees. As part of the routine annual evaluation of the meeting, the project team will specifically include questions about researcher attendees’ intentions to engage older and younger patients and their families in their research, and patient/caregiver attendees’ intentions to engage with researchers.

Patient and Stakeholder Engagement Plan: SMDM 2018 is a “patients included” conference. Two of four co-chairs are patients/caregivers who are not academic researchers; they are involved in every aspect of planning, including monthly meetings and regular email communications. Patients and caregivers will speak as panelists and as discussants following the opening keynote. This funding application will support patient and caregiver scholarships to broaden attendance. Patients and caregivers who are involved as co-chairs, speakers, and attendees will be invited to participate in future activities within SMDM as part of the group’s strategic plan.

Project Information

Holly Witteman, PhD
Society for Medical Decision Making

Key Dates

10 months


Project Status
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: November 10, 2022