Making Health Care Research More Relevant

January 23, 2013

Nearly 100 UCSF faculty and staff turned out on January 8th for a Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) and Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) symposium hosted by the Comparative Effectiveness Research program at UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).

“It can be difficult to wrap your hands around all that CER and PCOR are about, and how to do this kind of research effectively,” says Mike Steinman, MD, director of CTSI’s CER program and organizer of the event. “The presenters did an impressive job of explaining the nuances of this kind of research, and it was encouraging to see the enthusiasm of other researchers at the symposium who are getting interested in this area.”

Eleven special guests from across UCSF and from the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente of Northern California presented on emerging priorities and methods for CER, maximizing opportunities for obtaining funding from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and methods for engaging stakeholders in patient-centered outcomes research. See box at end of news story for event agenda and all of the day’s presentations.

The symposium was followed by a discussion group hosted by Kathryn Phillips, PhD, of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. By convening the thought leaders in CER and allowing networking opportunities throughout the day, the symposium furthered its mission of building bridges between investigators and facilitating engagement with CER-related resources at UCSF.

Research that Puts Theory into Practice

Community-engaged research involves research in which community input is integrated in the development of the research question, implementation of the research project, analysis of the results, and/or dissemination of the findings to community stakeholders or end-users. Patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) is expanding this stakeholder-centric principle to studies that occur within health care systems and settings, focusing on the partnership between the researcher and the end user of research: the stakeholder. This latter category can include patients, patient advocates, families, clinicians, health care delivery systems, community-based organizations (CBO’s), and more. While CER by definition is not required to include patient-centered approaches, the strong emphasis on patient-centeredness that is being advanced by the Patient-Center Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is casting a long shadow over how investigators interested in CER are approaching their work.

CTSI’s CER program emphasizes that effective CER often involves partnerships between diverse disciplines, including the partnership between experts in specific areas of medical science and experts in engaging with patients and other stakeholders and facilitating their inclusion as active partners in the research enterprise. Therefore, the program provides investigators with up-to-date knowledge on scientific advances in the area, an understanding of policy developments and future funding opportunities, and linkages to local resources and collaborators who can support stakeholder engagement in research. Learn more about CER program resources and subscribe to receive regular email updates.

Spreading the Word about CTSI Resources

The day’s final session was devoted to highlighting resources at UCSF that can help investigators interested in these types of research.

Building Bridges and Expanding Research Networks

Attendees noted the importance of sharing knowledge around comparative research. Diane Allen, PT, PhD, one of the panelists and an early recipient of PCORI funding, commented that she “enjoyed the opportunity to meet other folks interested in PCOR, to hear about the work others are doing, and learn about resources available.”

The value of the symposium was expressed by participants such as Diana Lau, PhD, RN, CNS, Director of the Asian Health Institute.

“I came with two purposes in mind: To learn more about PCOR, and to use the networking opportunity to build the research support for the new Asian Health Institute at UCSF,” Lau said. “Given the diverse cultures in San Francisco, the emphasis in patient-centeredness in PCOR is especially relevant. The symposium was an enabling experience.”

In the end, the Symposium met its goal of reaching, engaging, informing and inspiring the next generation of comparative effectiveness researchers. The CER program leadership hopes to host a similar symposium in January of 2014.

The CTSI CER program collaborates with a variety of Bay Area institutions, including:

  • California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute;
  • Kaiser Permanente of Northern California Division of Research;
  • Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute;
  • San Francisco Branch of the United States Cochrane Center;
  • San Francisco Coordinating Center;
  • San Francisco VA Medical Center HSR&D Research Enhancement Award Program;
  • Stanford University Center for Health Policy / Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research;
  • Palo Alto VA Health Care System Center for Health Care Evaluation;
  • UC Berkeley School of Public Health.

UCSF's CTSI is a member of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards network funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (grant Number UL1 TR000004) at the National Institutes of Health. Under the banner of "Accelerating Research to Improve Health," CTSI provides a wide range of resources and services for researchers, and promotes online collaboration and networking tools such as UCSF Profiles.

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