EHC Program Inside Track Newsletter

Issue 4, May 2012
EHC Inside Track is a newsletter highlighting important news and developments from AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program.

In this issue:

JAMA Special Issue Features Two AHRQ-funded Studies Comparing Cancer Treatments

A prostate cancer treatment known as intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is better than conventional conformal radiation therapy (CRT) for reducing certain side effects and preventing cancer recurrence, according to a study funded by AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program. The study also suggested IMRT to be as effective as proton beam therapy, a newer technique that has grown in popularity.

A different study funded by the Effective Health Care Program found that adding a biologic agent to a chemotherapy treatment of non-small cell lung cancer did not improve survival in older patients when compared to patients who received the standard treatment alone. Results from the studies were included in a special April 18 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on comparative effectiveness research.

The prostate cancer study, "Association of Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, Proton Therapy, or Conformal Radiation Therapy with Morbidity and Disease Control in Localized Prostate Cancer," showed that patients receiving IMRT had fewer gastrointestinal problems and hip fractures than patients receiving CRT. The results also suggested that IMRT patients were less likely than CRT patients to need subsequent cancer treatments. A comparison of IMRT to proton beam therapy, meanwhile, showed no clear advantage of proton beam therapy over IMRT.

During the past 10 years, IMRT has replaced CRT as the most common radiation technique used to treat prostate cancer. Proton beam therapy, meanwhile, remains a relatively rare but rapidly growing treatment choice that has led to a dramatic increase in proton facilities during the past 5 years.

The lung cancer study, "Carboplatin and Paclitaxel With vs Without Bevacizumab in Older Patients with Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer," found a drug regimen approved for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (bevacizumab added to the standard chemotherapy regimen carboplatin and paclitaxel) did not improve survival in older Medicare patients compared with patients who received the standard treatment alone.

In addition to these articles about Effective Health Care Program-sponsored research, the special JAMA issue also included a question-and-answer feature with AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D, in which Dr. Clancy highlights the importance of comparative effectiveness research and the Agency's efforts to better engage the public. To read Dr. Clancy's interview, prostate cancer and lung cancer article abstracts and commentary on comparative effectiveness, access the April 18 issue of JAMA.

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American College of Cardiology and AHRQ Partner to Engage Patients in Care Decisions

A guest post by AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., on the American College of Cardiology's (ACC) blog, ACC in Touch , highlights how patient-centered outcomes research and evidence-based information from AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program can help doctors and patients work together to decide on the best treatment options.

As part of an ongoing partnership, the ACC and AHRQ are working together to help clinicians engage their patients in health care decisionmaking to improve their care experiences and achieve the best possible outcomes.

In addition, the ACC co-branded AHRQ's recently released consumer publication titled Measuring Your Blood Pressure at Home: A Review of the Research for Adults. Using plain language, the booklet describes the basics of blood pressure and the risks of hypertension while outlining information about home blood pressure monitors. A list of questions that patients can ask their health care team is also included. The ACC distributed 500 copies of the free patient resource at its annual ACC Scientific Session & Expo from March 24-26 in Chicago.

"Patient-centered care is based on empowering patients to become active participants in their own health," explained Mary N. Walsh, M.D., F.A.C.C., chair of ACC's Patient-Centered Care Committee. "AHRQ's materials encourage patients to understand their treatment options and make informed decisions regarding their care."

For more information about the national partnership network and how to get involved, visit

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Symposium on Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Methods to be Web Broadcast June 12-13

An invitational symposium on research methods, "Efficacy to Effectiveness," will be held June 12-13 at the AHRQ Conference Center in Rockville, MD. AHRQ will provide a live, online broadcast of scientists' slides and audio presentations, which will highlight factors that result in differences between results from randomized clinical trials of treatments (efficacy) and observational studies of treatments outside of controlled research environments (effectiveness). The symposium, which is the fourth sponsored by AHRQ's DEcIDE Research Network, will also provide a forum for scholarly deliberation of new and emerging research methods in different disciplines and across settings.

Sherine E. Gabriel, M.D., the William J. and Charles H. Mayo Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic and chair of the methodology committee at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), will provide the keynote speech.

To register, review the agenda, or get more information, visit the symposium Web site . Papers presented at the 2011 conference and published in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety are available for download from the AHRQ EHC Program Web site. Earlier papers presented at 2006 and 2009 symposia and published in the journal Medical Care are also available for download. Printed copies may be ordered through the AHRQ Publication Clearinghouse (publication numbers: #OM07-0085 [2006], #OM10-0067 [2009], #OM12-0043 [2011]) by emailing

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New Effective Health Care Program Resources

To access all Effective Health Care Program resources, visit

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Page last reviewed September 2012
Internet Citation: EHC Program Inside Track Newsletter. Content last reviewed September 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.