Establishing the Definition of Patient-Centered Outcomes Research

Note: This page has been updated as indicated below, under PCORI’s content updating policy. The original version of this document is available here.

The PCORI Board of Governors on March 5, 2012, approved in a public vote at its Board meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, the following working definition of “patient-centered outcomes research.”

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) helps people and their caregivers communicate and make informed healthcare decisions, allowing their voices to be heard in assessing the value of healthcare options. This research answers patient-centered questions, such as:

  1. “Given my personal characteristics, conditions, and preferences, what should I expect will happen to me?”
  2. “What are my options, and what are the potential benefits and harms of those options?”
  3. “What can I do to improve the outcomes that are most important to me?”
  4. “How can clinicians and the care delivery systems they work in help me make the best decisions about my health and health care?”

To answer these questions, PCOR:

  • Assesses the benefits and harms of preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic, palliative, or health delivery system interventions to inform decision making, highlighting comparisons and outcomes that matter to people;
  • Is inclusive of an individual's preferences, autonomy, and needs, focusing on outcomes that people notice and care about such as survival, function, symptoms, and health-related quality of life;
  • Incorporates a wide variety of settings and diversity of participants to address individual differences and barriers to implementation and dissemination; and
  • Investigates (or may investigate) optimizing outcomes while addressing burden to individuals, availability of services, technology, and personnel, and other stakeholder perspectives. Note: This sentence was updated on 4/20/2012. The reason for the change is explained here.

Read more about the process for establishing the definition of "Patient-Centered Outcomes Research"

Posted May 8, 2012; Updated November 7, 2013

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