PCORI is pursuing two complementary but equally critical approaches to identify and select research questions to fund. Together, these approaches will help us build a robust portfolio of patient-centered outcomes research that addresses the needs of patients, caregivers, clinicians, and other healthcare stakeholders.

Investigator-Initiated Approach

Through this approach, launched in May 2012, investigators submit proposals in response to PCORI Funding Announcements (PFAs), broad calls for research proposals in our five priority areas. We believe research meaningfully informed by input from patients and other stakeholders is more likely to be used for making patient-centered health and healthcare decisions and, ultimately, to improve patient outcomes. Therefore, we require that the proposals we fund under these broad PFAs include patients and other stakeholders in each step of the research process—from proposal development to research design and dissemination of the study results. Patients and other stakeholders also participate in our application review process.


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Patient- and Other Stakeholder–Initiated Approach

As we seek proposals under broad funding announcements, we are also committed to identifying and funding topic-specific research proposals likely to have a substantial impact on practice and patient outcomes. We recognize that, even with the collaboration of patients and other stakeholders, topics selected through an investigator-initiated process could miss important questions that matter to patients. If patients and other stakeholders are to have a sense of ownership of the research process, then we need to be open to suggestions from the entire healthcare community, and we must make the origins of the topics transparent and traceable.

This second path, designed to produce targeted PFAs, follows a systematic topic generation and research prioritization process. This process begins with potential research questions solicited directly from patients and other stakeholders through our website, engagement initiatives, and similar efforts undertaken by other healthcare experts and organizations. To date, we have collected more than 1,000 questions through this process.

As we evaluate the questions, with input from our Board of Governors, Science Oversight Committee, Advisory Panels, and relevant workgroups, we move them onto ever more selective lists. Topics identified in this way can not only be the basis of targeted PFAs but also be listed as suggested topics or areas of special interest for other funding announcements, including those for pragmatic clinical studies. This approach allows us to focus dedicated resources on areas identified as high priority.


Posted: March 27, 2013; Updated: May 4, 2015

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