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PCORI Nails Down a Definition, at Last

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 8, 2012

A Hard-to-Come-By Definition
Getting to a definition wasn't easy.  It had to encompass "comparative effectiveness research," the typical scientific research projects that evaluate and compare the worth and quality of various treatments that providers now administer to patients.

But it also had to capture separate concepts that include the process of patient-healthcare system interaction: how patients and providers communicate, studies of barriers, such as transportation or language, to optimal care, how patients can get the best information about options, as well as what patients should do to improve those outcomes themselves.

A few members of PCORI's governors don't like the finished product and quibbled for 30 minutes before voting. Two of the 20 members who attended voted against and one abstained. There was passion, or maybe it was angst, in the room.

Convoluted? Skewed Toward Research?
Board of Governors member Francis Collins, MD, head of the National Institutes of Health, questioned whether the new definition is "skewed" to emphasize research in how patients and their caregivers communicate instead of research in what kind of care and treatments produce the best patient outcomes.

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