AHRQ Evidence-based Practice Center and NIH Pathways to Prevention programs: A decade-long partnership in closing evidence gaps

Article type
Bañez LL1, Niebuhr DW1, Iyer S1, McNellis RJ2, Chang C1, Umscheid CA1
1Center for Evidence and Practice Improvement, Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality
2Office of Disease Prevention, National Institutes of Health
Background: The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)’s Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) Program produces evidence reports to inform healthcare decision-makers such as funding agencies supporting new research. The National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Pathways to Prevention (P2P) Program, established by the NIH Office of Disease Prevention (ODP), uses inclusive, transparent, unbiased, and rigorous processes in its workshops to engage U.S. federal agencies, researchers, stakeholders, and the public; identify scientific gaps in disease prevention; and develop a research agenda to move the field forward. Since 2013, the EPC Program has partnered with NIH-ODP by providing systematic reviews for P2P Workshops that support research recommendation development aimed at closing evidence gaps.

Objectives: (1) To describe EPC review and P2P workshop processes used by the AHRQ and NIH to identify and prioritize key research gaps and develop an actionable plan to address them; (2) to provide a summary of previous reviews and workshops including accomplishments resulting from these efforts; and (3) to share lessons learned from this longstanding AHRQ-NIH partnership.

Methods: A descriptive review of past systematic reviews and workshops since P2P program inception was conducted including portfolio analysis of funding opportunities and grants resulting from the AHRQ-NIH partnership.

Results: Eleven P2P workshops, all supported by EPC systematic reviews, were convened since program inception, covering a wide range of topics including opioids for chronic pain, health equity in preventive services, and youth suicide prevention. Accomplishments include 26 high-impact journal publications and several NIH funding opportunities yielding 20 grant awards supported by over $66M in funding aimed at closing evidence gaps identified by the AHRQ-NIH partnership. Recommendations from independent unbiased panels presiding over P2P workshops helped create action plans in further partnership with other federal agencies. Solicitation of public comments on draft evidence reports and panel recommendations allowed transparency and encouraged stakeholder engagement.

Conclusions: Synergies from close collaboration between evidence review producers and research funders can result in a robust strategy to identify crucial evidence gaps that hinder delivery of evidence-based care to patients. An inclusive process that engages unbiased experts, researchers, and the public helps develop research agenda that ultimately improves patient outcomes.