Health care decision makers' use of comparative effectiveness research: Report from a series of focus groups

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Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy


BACKGROUND: Comparative effectiveness research (CER) is a helpful approach to improve health outcomes by developing and disseminating evidence-based information to patients, clinicians, and other decision makers about the most effective interventions. OBJECTIVES: To (a) identify the factors necessary to increase the use of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ) CER reviews in hospitals and managed care organizations; (b) assess current awareness and implementation of CER materials in these facilities and organizations; and (c) inform development of content for a workshop on CER. METHODS: Pharmacy and therapeutics (P&T) committee members and supportive personnel were recruited to participate in focus groups conducted at national health professional meetings. Prior to the sessions, each participant completed a prefocus group questionnaire evaluating the organization and process of the respondent's P&T committee, as well as the respondent's role in the P&T committee and awareness of AHRQ CER reports. Each session consisted of a focused discussion about CER and sources of evidence for P&T monographs, and each participant completed a ballot to rank topics of importance for inclusion in a CER workshop for health care professionals involved in the P&T process. Overarching themes were later identified using qualitative analysis of the transcripts of the focus group sessions. RESULTS: Thirty-nine (68%) pharmacists and 18 (32%) physicians involved in the P&T process participated in 1 of 7 focus groups. Almost half of the participants had 6-15 years experience with the P&T process. Participants represented health plans, hospitals, and health care systems. Two-thirds indicated they were aware of AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program's CER reviews, yet only 26% reported using the reviews in their organizations. The overarching themes reflected the need for timely and conclusive CER information; the role of the pharmacist as central to evidence synthesis for the P&T process; and the need for educational programs in online formats that are designed primarily for pharmacists. CONCLUSION: Health care decision makers identified timeliness as a key factor for facilitating the use of AHRQ CER reviews and guides in hospitals and managed care organizations. To facilitate integration of CER into the decision-making process, it is imperative that key stakeholders have access to comprehensive and timely information. While the majority of participants indicated that they were aware of AHRQ CER reviews, few had used them in the P&T process. © 2013, Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy.

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