Press Release

Embargoed Until Contact

October 07, 2010
12:01 AM PST

Sue Ducat
Director of Communications
(301) 841-9962


From Health Affairs


New Information About Comparative Effectiveness Research


Bethesda, MD--Health Affairs this week released three articles about comparative effectiveness research, to complement the information in its October edition, which explores how this research can be used to help answer critical questions about what works—and what doesn’t—in health care, and thereby increase health care quality and value.


Available with free access to the complete articles are:


A new health policy brief, from Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), examines some of the key issues of comparative effectiveness research, including some that are controversial. This area of scientific inquiry, which has been carried out for some time by government researchers, received a major boost in 2009 when, through the stimulus act, $1.1 billion was authorized for comparative effectiveness research. The Affordable Care Act, passed earlier this year, established the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to oversee and set guidelines for the research. This policy brief highlights the activities of the new institute, and explores some of the controversies associated with comparative effective research.


The stimulus legislation established the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness to direct the use of the $1.1 billion research funding.


In a Web First article, its former executive director, Patrick H. Conway, describes the steps the council took to invite public input, establish a definition, set priorities, coordinate project solicitations, and evaluate progress. Conway, now affiliated with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, says that the council helped fund “foundational research” and created “a path to guide the future direction of that research,” which the recently announced PCORI board members can build upon as it begins its own work.


Among the priorities proposed by the Institute of Medicine for comparative effectiveness research was a focus on historically neglected issues such as minority health care. A Web First article, by C. Daniel Mullins of the University of Maryland and co-authors, outlines measures to ensure that this research addresses the needs of minorities, including more attention to analysis of differences in the subgroups of minority populations. In the article, the authors also recommend strategies to recruit more minority participation in clinical trials, thereby increasing the research’s relevance to minority patients. “Ideally, comparative effectiveness research should lead to the opposite of ‘one size fits all’ treatment by producing evidence and insights that are applicable to subgroups of patients,” say the authors. “By including minorities in studies of comparative effectiveness, investigators can identify the drugs or devices with the greatest clinical net benefits for patients with certain characteristics.”

About Health Affairs

Health Affairs, published by Project HOPE, is the leading journal of health policy. The peer-reviewed journal appears each month in print, with additional Web First papers published weekly at The full text of each Health Affairs Web First paper is available free of charge to all Web-site visitors for a two-week period following posting, after which it switches to pay-per-view for nonsubscribers. Web First papers are supported in part by a grant from The Commonwealth Fund.


Health Policy Briefs, supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, are aimed at policy makers, congressional staffers, and others who need short, jargon-free explanations of health policy basics. The briefs include competing arguments on policy proposals from various sides and the relevant research supporting each perspective. The briefs are also available from the RWJF's Web site, at: