International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care

General Essays

Comparative effectiveness research priorities: Identifying critical gaps in evidence for clinical and health policy decision making

Kalipso Chalkidoua1, Danielle Whichera2, Weslie Karya3 and Sean Tunisa4

a1 National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence

a2 Center for Medical Technology Policy

a3 Integrated Healthcare Association

a4 Center for Medical Technology Policy


Background: In the debate on improving the quality and efficiency of the United States healthcare system, comparative effectiveness research is increasingly seen as a tool for reducing costs without compromising outcomes. Furthermore, the recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act explicitly describes a prioritization function for establishing a comparative effectiveness research agenda. However, how such a function, in terms of methods and process, would go about identifying the most important priorities warranting further research has received little attention.

Objectives: This study describes an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality-funded pilot project to translate one current comparative effectiveness review into a prioritized list of evidence gaps and research questions reflecting the views of the healthcare decision makers involved in the pilot.

Methods: To create a prioritized research agenda, we developed an interactive nominal group process that relied on a multistakeholder workgroup scoring a list of research questions on the management of coronary artery disease.

Results: According to the group, the areas of greatest uncertainty regarding the management of coronary artery disease are the comparative effectiveness of medical therapy versus percutaneous coronary interventions versus coronary artery bypass grafting for different patient subgroups; the impact of diagnostic testing; and the most effective method of developing performance measures for providers.

Conclusions: By applying our nominal group process, we were able to create a list of research priorities for healthcare decision makers. Future research should focus on refining this process because determining research priorities is essential to the success of developing an infrastructure for comparative effectiveness research.


Funding for this project was awarded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The reference number of the contract for this project is 07R000175. This project was funded under Contract Reference Number 07R000175 from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The authors of this report are responsible for its content. Statements in the report should not be construed as endorsement by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Kalipso Chalkidou was funded by the Commonwealth Fund. The views expressed here are her own and do not represent the Fund, its Director, Officers, or staff.