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Studies confirm value of including patients and other nonscientists in research funding decisions

Studies confirm value of including patients and other nonscientists in research funding decisions

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Value in Health, the official journal of ISPOR (the professional society for health economics and outcomes research), announced today the publication of 2 studies confirming the value of including patients and other nonscientists in the process for approving research funding. The reports, Unique Review Criteria and Patient and Stakeholder Reviewers: Analysis of PCORI’s Approach to Research Funding and Researchers, Patients, and Stakeholders Evaluating Comparative Effectiveness Research: A Mixed-Methods Study of the PCORI Reviewer Experience were published in the October 2018 issue of Value in Health. The research for the 2 papers was conducted simultaneously and led by experts from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

The first study was a cross-sectional analysis of administrative data from PCORI Merit Review applications across 5 funding cycles. Researchers assessed the extent to which different reviewer types influence review scores and funding outcomes, the emphasis placed on technical merit compared to other criteria by a multistakeholder panel, and the impact of the in-person discussion on agreement among different reviewer types. Results show that scientist, patient, and stakeholder (eg, clinicians, health systems administrators, policy-makers, caregivers) views all contribute to PCORI Merit Review of applications for research funding. Technical merit is critical to funding success, but patient and stakeholder ratings of other criteria also influence funding decisions. In fact, for each reviewer type, overall initial scores were changed on at least half of the applications after the in-person panel discussion.

The second study used anonymous, cross-sectional surveys to understand reviewers’ perspectives of the interactions during the in-person review panel; to examine the value and challenges of including scientists, patients, and stakeholders together; and to understand the perceived importance of PCORI’s review criteria. Survey results indicate that reviewers of all types describe PCORI Merit Review as respectful, balanced, and one of reciprocal influence among different reviewer types. Challenges included concerns about a lack of technical expertise of patient/ stakeholder reviewers and about scientists dominating conversations.

“PCORI was established to fund patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research that is relevant to patients and other healthcare decision makers and produces results that can be quickly applied in health decision making,” said author Laura Forsythe, PhD, MPH, PCORI, Washington, DC, USA. “While other funders have incorporated patients, consumers, or the public in their reviews, the extent to which PCORI involves nonscientists in application review is unprecedented. The research described in these articles provides new evidence about how the views of scientists, patients, and other stakeholders are incorporated in the PCORI Merit Review of applications for research funding, and how reviewers’ perceive the interactions involved. We hope this work will facilitate funding of research that is more relevant to healthcare decision making.”​

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