The Effective Health Care Program Stakeholder Guide

Appendix A. Standardized Selection Criteria for Topics


  • Represents a health care drug, intervention, device, or technology available (or soon to be available) in the United States.
  • Relevant to Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other Federal health care programs.


  • Represents a significant disease burden; affects a large proportion of the population or a priority population (e.g., children, elderly adults, low-income, rural/inner city, minorities, or other individuals with special health care or access issues).
  • Is of high public interest; affects health care decisionmaking, outcomes, or costs for a large proportion of the U.S. population or for a priority population in particular.
  • Was nominated/strongly supported by one or more stakeholder groups.
  • Represents important uncertainty for decisionmakers.
  • Incorporates issues surrounding both clinical benefits and potential clinical harms.
  • Represents important variation in clinical care or controversy in what constitutes appropriate clinical care.
  • Represents high costs due to common use, high unit costs, or high associated costs to consumers, patients, health care systems, or payers.


  • Avoids potential for redundancy (i.e., is not already covered by an available or soon-to-be available high-quality systematic review by AHRQ or others).


  • Effectively utilizes existing research and knowledge by considering—
    • Adequacy (type and volume) of research for conducting a systematic review.
    • Newly available evidence (particularly for updates or new technologies).

Potential Value

  • Has potential for significant health impact:
    • To improve health outcomes.
    • To reduce significant variation in clinical practices known to be related to quality of care.
    • To reduce unnecessary burden on those with health care problems.
  • Has potential for significant economic impact:
    • To reduce unnecessary or excessive costs.
  • Has potential for change:
    • The proposed topic exists within a clinical, consumer, or policymaking context that is amenable to evidence-based change.
    • A product from the EHC Program could be an appropriate vehicle for change.
  • Has potential risk from inaction:
    • Unintended harms from lack of prioritization of a nominated topic.
  • Addresses inequities and vulnerable populations (including issues for patient subgroups).
  • Addresses a topic that has clear implications for resolving important dilemmas in health and health care decisions made by one or more stakeholder groups.
Page last reviewed February 2014
Internet Citation: Appendix A. Standardized Selection Criteria for Topics. Content last reviewed February 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.