EHC Program Inside Track Newsletter

Issue 10, January 2013
EHC Inside Track is a newsletter highlighting important news and developments from AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program.

In this issue:

The EHC Program Research Process & How You Can Participate

Some of the best ideas for research come from medicine’s frontlines—from the clinicians who treat patients every day. That’s why AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program places such a strong emphasis on encouraging providers to nominate research topics and provide input on research in progress.

"If you have ideas for topics you would like to see the EHC Program explore or if you are an expert in a certain field, we encourage you to submit a topic or comment on research," said Jean Slutsky, PA, MSPH, "Input from the public is critical because it helps us ensure we’re asking the right questions and providing useful information."

Get involved in EHC Program research:

Topic nominations submitted online are carefully considered for future comparative effectiveness reviews or original research reports. All suggestions are carefully considered based on criteria listed on the Program’s Web site. Priority is given to research suggestions that focus on certain conditions, patient populations, or that may have a significant impact on the quality of patient care for a large number of people.

Once the research topic is decided, health care professionals and others have several opportunities to comment on draft reports, key findings, and white papers. At each stage of the process, the EHC Program’s Web site posts drafts for about four weeks to allow for public input. The Program considers each comment before the report is finalized, and each comment is addressed via a “disposition of comments” report. (Select for an example.)

Final research reviews are published online along with an executive summary. Easy-to-read research summaries are developed for clinicians, patients, and policymakers. Each research summary is developed based on audience feedback and undergoes a review by external experts.

“The EHC Program offers an exciting and unique opportunity for anyone in the health care space,” said Slutsky. “We encourage you to nominate a research topic, comment on existing research, or share these free materials with colleagues and patients.”

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Grocery Stores, Pharmacies Promote High Blood Pressure Patient Resources

Pharmacy counters at nearly 2,000 grocery stores and retail pharmacies across the United States—including Giant, Albertsons, Food Lion, and Kmart—are working with AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program to offer evidence-based, patient health information.

With the support of EHC Program partners— the American College of Cardiology, the National Hispanic Medical Association, and the National Latina Health Network—more than 580,000 cobranded copies of Choosing Medicines for High Blood Pressure and Measuring Your Blood Pressure at Home: A Review of the Research for Adults brochures in English and Spanish were distributed during a heart health campaign this fall.

The stores ran regular 30-second audio announcements directing people to pharmacy counters to receive free AHRQ materials on comparing treatments for high blood pressure and methods for measuring blood pressure at home. While shoppers browsed the aisles or waited for prescriptions, the announcements called on them to talk to their health care provider about treatment options and remember that “finding the right drug means balancing the benefits, side effects, and costs.”

This in-store heart health campaign was part of the EHC Program’s ongoing efforts to work with a variety of clinician groups and partners to reach consumers with unbiased, evidence-based tools to help inform their health care decisions and improve care. In the next in-store campaign, in February 2013, we will work with over 4,200 stores to highlight the EHC English and Spanish brochures on treating high cholesterol.

Interested in running similar announcements in your store, hospital, or clinic? Download these public service announcements and more recordings for free from AHRQ’s Healthcare 411 Web site.

Free print copies of AHRQ brochures in English and Spanish can be obtained by calling 800-358-9295. Companion clinician materials, including research summaries, slide sets, and CME/CE courses are also available.

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New CME/CE Activity on Improving Quality of Care Just Posted to CHAIN Online

A new continuing education (CME/CE) activity Achieving Quality Hypertension Care: Missing the ‘Low-Hanging Fruit’ in Quality Improvement describes the reasons for failure to achieve blood pressure control at both the patient and provider level and highlights some of the missed opportunities and possible solutions for improving quality-of-care for patients with hypertension. The CME/CE activity was based on research conducted by Duke CERT investigators and published in the article Hypertension control among patients followed by cardiologists in the May 2012 issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. The CME/CE activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™.

The Clinician-Consumer Health Advisory Information Network (CHAIN) Online operates as a collaborative effort of the Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) Educational Consortium. It provides timely and practical information to health care professionals, patients, family members, medical faculty, and others about emerging issues concerning the safe and effective use of drugs, devices, and biological products.

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More New, Free Effective Health Care Program Resources

New Evidence-Based Treatment Summaries for Patients and Clinicians
Treatment summaries help patients and clinicians learn about treatment options and compare their effectiveness, benefits, and risks. (To order free print copies, call 1-800-358-9295 and use reference code C-05.)

Arthritis: Treatments for Psoriatic & Rheumatoid Arthritis
AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program has new materials that review the comparative effectiveness of different rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) treatment options. These resources detail the benefits and harms of potential treatment strategies and areas for more research as well as key questions that patients and clinicians should consider when choosing treatment options. 

Medicines for Rheumatoid Arthritis patient treatment summary now available.

Rheumatoid arthritis resources include—



Medicines for Psoriatic Arthritis patient treatment summary now available.

Psoriatic arthritis resources include—

Hepatitis C: Treatment for Adults

New publications are available from AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program that summarize scientific evidence on the comparative effectiveness of current antiviral treatments on long-term clinical outcomes. These new resources compare the effectiveness of dual and triple drug combinations in treating hepatitis C.
Resources include—

Spanish-Language Treatment Summaries

New Research Reviews Comparing Treatment Options
Each of these reviews compares available evidence from numerous research studies. Companion summary resources for patients and clinicians will be available for each of these reviews in the future.

Acute Migraine: Treatment in Emergency Settings
According to the latest research review from AHRQ that looked at the effectiveness of non-oral medications to treat acute migraine in emergency settings, many appear to be effective for treating acute migraine headache when compared to placebo, such as NSAIDS, opioids, and triptans; however, the strength of evidence is not sufficient to show any one treatment is better than another. The review determined that more research is required to identify the most effective non-oral treatments for adults with acute migraine. Read the full research review here: Acute Migraine Treatment in Emergency Setting.

Treating Chronic Hepatitis C patient treatment summary now available.Hepatitis C: Screening in Adults
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a growing concern for many populations in the U.S. According to the latest research, although screening strategies for Hepatitis C can accurately identify adults with the disease, more research is needed to understand the effects of targeted screening strategies in adults. The review also noted that evidence remains limited on the effects of knowing one’s HCV status on clinical health outcomes in patients diagnosed with HCV. Read the full research review here: Screening for Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Adults.

Long-Term Care: Outcomes of Patients Treated at Long-Term Care Facilities
There are currently 11 million individuals in the United States requiring care at a long-term care facility. According to recent research, there may be minimal differences in the health outcomes for patients at different long-term care facilities. The review found few differences overall and noted there may be no difference in cognitive health, physical function, mental health, and morality between long-term care facilities. Read the full research review here: Long Term Care Strategies in Older Adults: A Review of Home and Community-based Services Versus Institutional Care.

Plaque Psoriasis: Treatment Effectiveness
According to the latest research review from AHRQ, there is not enough evidence available to compare the effectiveness of different types of therapies for plaque psoriasis, including biologic agents (genetically engineered drugs that target specific steps in the development of psoriasis), nonbiologic agents (synthetic drugs) and phototherapy (exposure to daylight or to specific wavelengths of light). AHRQ’s research review compares health measures affected by the different agents and highlights future research needs for the topic. Read the full research review here: Biologic and Nonbiologic Systemic Agents and Phototherapy for Treatment of Chronic Plaque Psoriasis

Restless Leg Syndrome: Effective Treatment Strategies

N ew AHRQ research finds that in patients with restless leg syndrome (RLS), evidence suggests that certain medications, when compared to placebo, reduce RLS symptoms and improve patient-reported sleep outcomes and quality of life. These medications include dopamine agonists and anticonvulsant alpha-2-delta ligands. However, these drugs may not work on all patients as both short- and long-term negative side effects, treatment withdrawals, and lack of efficacy are common. Read the full research review here: Treatments for Restless Legs Syndrome.

Other New Research

Cardiovascular Health: Metformin Compared with Sulfonylureas
According to new research from AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program, among patients beginning to take oral medications to treat type 2 diabetes, the use of sulfonylureas was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events (CVD) – including death – compared with metformin use. Further studies would be needed to clarify whether the difference in risk is due to harms from sulfonylureas, benefits from metformin, or both. To learn more, access the report here: Comparative Effectiveness of Sulfonylurea and Metformin Monotherapy on Cardiovascular Events in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.

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Page last reviewed January 2013
Internet Citation: EHC Program Inside Track Newsletter. Content last reviewed January 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.