EPC Topic Nomination and Selection

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) serves as the science partner with private-sector and public organizations in their efforts to improve the quality, effectiveness, and appropriateness of health care delivery in the United States, and to expedite the translation of evidence-based research findings into improved health care services. In this context, AHRQ awards task order contracts to its Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs) to undertake scientific analysis and evidence syntheses on topics of high priority to its stakeholders, which includes public and private health care payers, providers, and the health care community in general.


The EPCs produce science syntheses—evidence reports and technology assessments—that provide to public and private organizations the foundation for developing and implementing their own practice guidelines, performance measures, educational programs, and other strategies to improve the quality of health care and of decisionmaking related to the effectiveness and appropriateness of specific health care technologies and services. The evidence reports and technology assessments may also be used to inform coverage and reimbursement policies.

Reports and assessments may be completed and published 18-20  months after nomination. AHRQ widely disseminates the EPC evidence reports and technology assessments. The EPC evidence reports and technology assessments do not make clinical recommendations or recommendations related to reimbursement and coverage policies.

Professional societies, health systems, employers, insurers, providers, and consumer groups are encouraged to nominate topics and thereby collaborate with AHRQ as it carries out its mission to promote the practice of evidence-based health care.

Role and Responsibilities of Partners

Nominators of topics selected for development into an EPC evidence report or technology assessment may assume the role of Partners of AHRQ and the EPCs. Partners are specific stakeholders who have defined roles and responsibilities. Specifically, Partners serve as resources to EPCs as they develop the evidence reports and technology assessments related to the nominated topic; commit to timely translation of the EPC reports and assessments into their own quality improvement tools (e.g., clinical practice guidelines, performance measures), educational programs, and reimbursement policies; and promote dissemination of these derivative products to their membership as appropriate. AHRQ also is interested in members' use of these derivative products and the products' impact on enhanced health care. Resource materials for EPC Stakeholders in general can be accessed at The Effective Health Care Program Stakeholder Guide .

Report Topics

The EPCs prepare evidence reports and technology assessments on topics for which there is significant demand for information by health care providers, insurers, purchasers, health-related societies, and patient advocacy organizations. Such topics may include the prevention, diagnosis and/or treatment of particular clinical and behavioral conditions; the use of alternative or complementary therapies; and the appropriate use of commonly provided services, procedures, or technologies. Topics may also include issues related to the organization and financing of health care, such as risk adjustment methodologies, market performance measures, provider payment mechanisms, and insurance purchasing tools, as well as measurement or evaluation of provider integration of new scientific findings regarding health care and health care delivery innovations. Previous evidence reports can be found at Evidence Reports By Year. Reports on the comparative effectiveness of therapies, technologies, and services can be found on the Effective Health Care Program Web site.

AHRQ is very interested in receiving topic nominations from professional societies and organizations comprised of members of minority populations, as well as nominations of topics that have significant impact on AHRQ priority populations, which include low-income groups, minority groups, women, children, the elderly, and individuals with special health care needs, such as those with disabilities, those who need chronic care or end-of-life health care, or those who live in inner-city and rural areas.

Topic Nomination

Nominations of topics for AHRQ evidence reports and technology assessments should focus on specific aspects of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and/or management of a particular condition; an individual procedure, treatment, or technology; or a specific health care organizational or financial strategy. The processes that AHRQ employs to select clinical and behavioral topics as well as organization and financing topics nominated by the EPCs is described below. For each topic, the nominator must provide the following information:

  • Rationale and supporting evidence as to the relevance and importance of the topic to be addressed.
  • Three to five focused questions on the topic.
  • Plans for rapid translation of the evidence reports and technology assessments into clinical guidelines, performance measures, educational programs, or other strategies for strengthening the quality of health care services; or plans to inform the development of reimbursement or coverage policies.
  • Plans for use and/or dissemination of these derivative products—e.g., to the nominating organization's membership if appropriate.
  • Description of the process by which the nominating organization will measure the use of these products and the impact of such use.

Further information on how to suggest a topic for the EPC program can be found at: http://www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/index.cfm/submit-a-suggestion-for-research/how-to-suggest-a-topic-for-research/.

Topic Selection

Factors that will be considered in the selection of topics for AHRQ evidence reports and technology assessments include:

  • Burden of disease, including severity, incidence, and/or prevalence; or relevance of an organizational or financial topic to the general population and/or AHRQ's priority populations, which include low-income groups, minority groups, women, children, the elderly, and individuals with special health care needs, such as those with disabilities, those who need chronic care or end-of-life health care, or those who live in inner-city and rural areas.
  • Controversy or uncertainty about the topic, and about availability of scientific data to support its systematic review and analysis.
  • Total costs associated with a condition, procedure, treatment, technology, or organizational or financial topic, whether due to the number of people needing care, the unit cost of care, or indirect costs.
  • Potential impact, for reducing clinically significant variations in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, or management of a disease or condition, or variations in the use of a procedure or technology; for informing and improving patient and/or provider decisionmaking; for improving health outcomes; and/or reducing costs.
  • Relevance to the needs of the Medicare, Medicaid, and other Federal health care programs.
  • The nominating organization's plan to disseminate derivative products, to measure use and impact of these products on outcomes, or to otherwise incorporate the report into its managerial or policy decisionmaking.

Further information on how topics are selected can be found at http://www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/index.cfm/submit-a-suggestion-for-research/how-are-research-topics-chosen/.

Submit Nominations

Topics nominations should be submitted via the Effective Health Care Web site at: http://www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/index.cfm/submit-a-suggestion-for-research/.