Engaging patients, caregivers, clinicians, insurers, and other healthcare community members is at the core of PCORI’s unique approach to research funding. Our goal is to support research that will provide reliable, useful information to help people make informed healthcare decisions and improve patient care and outcomes.


Our Approach

We use two ways to identify research questions to study. We issue broad calls for proposals drawing on investigators’ best ideas. We also issue targeted funding announcements to address questions we select through topic generation and research prioritization. Targeted research may take place through sets of studies dedicated to a specific clinical area.

Alternatively, this research takes place through pragmatic clinical studies, which usually are larger in scale, take place in real-life care situations, and include more-diverse patient groups than traditional trials. Our National Priorities for Research and Research Agenda is the road map guiding all of our work.


PCORI's research projects by populations of interest - Racial/ethnic minorities (331) Low income groups (223) Women (184) Older adults (153) Individuals with multiple chronic conditions (126) Children (115) Urban populations (109) Residents of Rural

Comparative Clinical Effectiveness Research

We primarily fund comparative clinical effectiveness research, or CER. These studies compare the benefits and harms of two or more treatments, clinical strategies, or other approaches to health care. The type of CER we support, patient-centered outcomes research, or PCOR, focuses on outcomes that patients and other healthcare stakeholders tell us are important. Our awardees use various study designs in their research.


We support collaboration with other research funders to influence others to engage in patient-centered outcomes studies. Such partnerships also can leverage expertise across the research community to maximize the impact of PCORI’s investments.


PCORI's research projects by most studied conditions Mental/behavioral health (144) Cancer (95) Neurological Disorders (78) Cardiovascular Diseases (77) Multiple Chronic Conditions (60) Nutritional and Metabolic Disorders (59) Respiratory Diseases

Advancing CER Methods

Another crucial part of our work is developing and improving methods of patient-centered CER. As part of that effort, PCORI’s Methodology Committee has developed standards for all of the research we fund. These standards represent basic practices in planning, designing, and conducting studies to ensure patient-centeredness and engagement throughout the research process.

Evaluating Our Progress

As proponents of evidence-based practice, we’re eager to learn what works best to ensure that the research we fund produces useful information that leads to improved health outcomes. Learn how we monitor our progress. Through our evaluation activities, we also discover how we can improve our work and assess the impact of our patient-centered approach.


-- Compares at least two healthcare options
-- Focuses on outcomes that are meaningful to patients
-- Engages patients and other stakeholders at every stage
-- Studies benefits and harms of care delivered in real-world settings
-- Adheres to PCORI's Methodology Standards
-- Is likely to improve current clinical practice


-- Conditions that place heavy burdens on patients, families, or healthcare systems
-- Chronic conditions
-- Multiple coexisting conditions
-- Rare and understudied conditions
-- Conditions with variable outcomes across subpopulations
-- Populations at risk for healthcare disparities

Posted: March 19, 2017; Updated: October 1, 2021

What's Happening at PCORI?

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute sends weekly emails highlighting results of our funded studies, newly funded research and engagement awards, opportunities to apply for funding, stakeholder workshops, and original feature stories about our funded projects.

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