Generation and Prioritization of Topics for Funding Announcements
How Does PCORI Assess and Select Topics for Potential Research Funding?
In selecting topics for PCORI Funding Announcements (PFAs), our goal is to identify research questions that matter to patients, caregivers, clinicians, and other healthcare stakeholders but have not been answered reliably by previous studies. Research topics are suggested through multiple sources, including healthcare stakeholders and PCORI’s Board of Governors, staff, and Advisory Panel members. Some of these topics are submitted through our website.
A topic may be deemed ineligible or discarded if research in that area is already under way, the topic doesn’t align with our research strategy, or it doesn’t meet established criteria.
We employ the following process to evaluate and approve research topics and prepare PFAs. We work with stakeholders throughout this process to refine the questions so that they can be effective as the basis for comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER). As such, questions on lists 1–5 should be viewed as preliminary.
Step 1: Determine Eligibility of Topics
Topics are screened for basic eligibility by PCORI staff using Tier 1 review criteria. Next, eligible topics are screened and prioritized by other PCORI staff and topic experts using Tier 2 review criteria. CER questions are developed for the topics, as needed.
Step 2: Review of Topics
PCORI’s Science Oversight Committee (SOC) reviews the selections to determine whether the questions fit our research strategy and are ready for consideration by our multi-stakeholder advisory panels.
Step 3: Preparation and Review of Topic Briefs
Topic briefs are prepared summarizing previous research, pointing out gaps in evidence, and recommending appropriate CER questions. The SOC reviews the briefs and approves the questions.
Step 4: Prioritization
The appropriate PCORI Advisory Panels prioritize the CER questions according to Tier 3 review criteria.
Step 5: CER Question Refinement
The SOC reviews the prioritized CER questions and decides whether they should proceed to workgroups for further development. Questions that are not selected remain on list 4.
PCORI staff assemble workgroups made up of topic experts and healthcare stakeholders, including patients, caregivers, clinicians, and researchers, that recommend refinements of the CER questions.
Step 6: Assign CER Questions and Seek Board Approval for Targeted Announcements
Staff and the SOC use Tier 4 review criteria to review the questions recommended by the workgroup. The committee then assigns the questions for development as a targeted PFA (LIST 6) and/or for the suggested topic list in pragmatic clinical studies PFAs (LIST 7). Questions that are not assigned top priority at this step may be reconsidered by the SOC and advisory panels in future rounds of review.
Questions recommended for targeted PFAs are reviewed by the Board, which votes on approval. PCORI staff then develop approved questions into funding announcements.
Tier 1-4 Review Criteria
Posted: July 31, 2014; Updated: May 4, 2015
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