Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

What Is Comparative Effectiveness Research?

What Is Comparative Effectiveness Research?

From the US AHRQ (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) Web page

Comparative effectiveness research is designed to inform health-care decisions by providing evidence on the effectiveness, benefits, and harms of different treatment options. The evidence is generated from research studies that compare drugs, medical devices, tests, surgeries, or ways to deliver health care.

There are two ways that this evidence is found:

  • Researchers look at all of the available evidence about the benefits and harms of each choice for different groups of people from existing clinical trials, clinical studies, and other research. These are called research reviews, because they are systematic reviews of existing evidence.
  • Researchers conduct studies that generate new evidence of effectiveness or comparative effectiveness of a test, treatment, procedure, or health-care service.

Comparative effectiveness research requires the development, expansion, and use of a variety of data sources and methods to conduct timely and relevant research and disseminate the results in a form that is quickly usable by clinicians, patients, policymakers, and health plans and other payers. Seven steps are involved in conducting this research and in ensuring continued development of the research infrastructure to sustain and advance these efforts:

  1. Identify new and emerging clinical interventions.
  2. Review and synthesize current medical research.
  3. Identify gaps between existing medical research and the needs of clinical practice.
  4. Promote and generate new scientific evidence and analytic tools.
  5. Train and develop clinical researchers.
  6. Translate and disseminate research findings to diverse stakeholders.
  7. Reach out to stakeholders via a citizens forum.

Common questions about comparative effectiveness research

Q: Why is comparative effectiveness research needed? What problem is it trying to solve?

  • If you don’t get the best possible information about your treatment choices, you might not make an informed decision on what treatment is best for you.
  • When you shop for a new car, phone or camera, you have lots of information about your choices. But when it comes to choosing the right medicine or the best health-care treatment, clear and dependable information can be very hard to find.
  • It’s true that some treatments may not work for everyone, and that some treatments may work better for some people than others. This research can help identify the treatments that may work best for you.

Q: What are the practical benefits of comparative effectiveness research?

  • You deserve the best and most objective information about treating your sickness or condition. With this research in hand, you and your doctor can work together to make the best possible treatment choices.
  • For example, someone with high blood pressure might have more than a dozen medicines to choose from. Someone with heart disease might need to choose between having heart surgery or taking medicine to open a clogged artery. Reports on these topics and others include the pros and cons of all the options so that you and your doctor can make the best possible treatment decision for you or someone in your family.
  • Every patient is different — different circumstances, different medical history, different values. These reports don’t tell you and your doctor which treatment to choose. Instead, they offer an important tool to help you and your doctor understand the facts about different treatments.
…and AHRQ Effective Health Care Program Links

Thumbnail images of three consumer guides
Guides for Patients and Consumers include research reviews, research reports, and summary guides
Glossary of Terms
Personalization and Social Media Tools – These tools (as an email list)allow you to personalize your experience with the EHC Program Web site and share it with colleagues, family, and friends.

February 19, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Chapters for Effective Health Care Program’s Methods Guide for Comparative Effectiveness Reviews

New Chapters for Effective Health Care Program’s Methods Guide for Comparative Effectiveness Reviews

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) ’s Effective Health Care Program has released two new chapters of the Methods Guide for Effectiveness and Comparative Effectiveness Reviews:

·         “Finding Evidence for Comparing Medical Interventions

·         “Assessing the Applicability of Studies When Comparing Medical Interventions

To learn more about the Methods Guide for Effectiveness and Comparative Effectiveness Reviews and to access other chapters in this guide.


February 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cochrane Reviews – A Great Source for Sound Medical Evidence

Cochrane Reviews are thorough unbiased detailed systematic reviews of research in both human health care and health policy.

Some Cochrane Reviews investigate whether or not an intervention (as an antibiotic) really produces a specific intended effect (as reducing sore throat symptoms).

Other Cochrane Reviews look for evidence that a diagnostic test is accurate for a given disease within a specific patient group.

Evidence is largely based on clinical trials.

All Cochane Reviews address specific narrowly defined questions. Each review is the product of a independent team of health care and information professionals (as librarians). These scientific reviews are the result of many hours of analyzing original research. Each review can take up to two years to publish.

While there are presently over 4000 Cochrane Reviews, the Review collection does not cover every possible intervention, drug, or diagnostic test.

However, the abstracts of all reviews are available to the public. Many have plain language summaries.

(For suggestions on how to get free full text of Cochrane Reviews, please click here).

How to search for Cochrane Reviews

**Go to Cochrane Reviews- Explore

**Search for reviews using the simple search at the page or the advanced search option.

The Cochrane Review Home page contains informational links, including

**The Top 50 reviews (Past 24 hours, 7 days, and 30 days)

**Special Collections from the Cochrane Library

**Cochrane Library Editorials

January 25, 2011 Posted by | Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources | , , | Leave a comment

Clinical Trials and Systematic Reviews: Managing Information Overload

From the blog Open Medicine dated October 4th, 2010

Bastian H, Glasziou P, Chalmers I (2010) Seventy-Five Trials and Eleven Systematic Reviews a Day: How Will We Ever Keep Up? PLoS Med 7(9): e1000326. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000326

Published: September 21, 2010

  • When Archie Cochrane reproached the medical profession for not having critical summaries of all randomised controlled trials, about 14 reports of trials were being published per day. There are now 75 trials, and 11 systematic reviews of trials, per day and a plateau in growth has not yet been reached.
  • Although trials, reviews, and health technology assessments have undoubtedly had major impacts, the staple of medical literature synthesis remains the non-systematic narrative review. Only a small minority of trial reports are being analysed in up-to-date systematic reviews. Given the constraints, Archie Cochrane’s vision will not be achieved without some serious changes in course.
  • To meet the needs of patients, clinicians, and policymakers, unnecessary trials need to be reduced, and systematic reviews need to be prioritised. Streamlining and innovation in methods of systematic reviewing are necessary to enable valid answers to be found for most patient questions. Finally, clinicians and patients require open access to these important resources. [editor Flahiff’s emphasis]

If the results of a clinical study are published in a scientific journal, PubMed is the best way to search for information about the article. If you are having challenges searching PubMed, consider the tutorial at the home page of PubMed. You may also ask a reference librarian at a local public, academic, or medical library. Call ahead to see what level of assistance they offer.

Clinicaltrials.gov has the voluntary summaries of some clinical trials. Advanced search has the option Study results (select Studies With Results). Some results may be labelled “proprietary” (information not released to the public, sometimes called “industry secrets” ).

October 18, 2010 Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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