AHRQ Views: Blog posts from AHRQ leaders
Evidence in Action: AHRQ Reports Adding to the Momentum for Evidence-Based Care
A hallmark of AHRQ's work is providing evidence-based information to help clinicians and patients make the best possible treatment decisions. AHRQ's mission is to increase the use of evidence in practice to improve both outcomes for individuals and population health. AHRQ achieves these goals by developing, synthesizing, and disseminating evidence, and providing data, measures, tools, and training for improvement.
AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPC) Program serves as a foundation for this work. Working in teams at academic and research institutions in the United States and Canada, EPC investigators review the science on different test and treatment strategies for common conditions such as diabetes, prostate cancer, and arthritis. Suggestions for topics come from far and wide—from clinicians, advocacy groups, private industry, health professional organizations, government agencies, and the public.
AHRQ's EPC reports are unique. Researchers focus on health conditions that are common, expensive, and often lack consensus on treatment preferences. Researchers explore the full range of treatment options, not just one or two. Patients and caregivers are involved in formulating the questions to ensure that the final report meets their needs. Each analysis uses cutting edge methodology to evaluate those options based on reliable evidence for both benefits and harms.
Importantly, AHRQ's reviews are free of conflict of interest and receive no industry funding. This gives clinicians and consumers a trusted source based on evidence and free of potential bias. As Steve Mitchell, associate editor at Consumer Reports®, told us: "The quality [of AHRQ's reviews] is superior to most other reviews out there."
Is it gratifying to learn how AHRQ's products are being used to support evidence-based health care? It certainly is. And numerous Agency reports suggest momentum is growing:
- AHRQ evidence reviews help form the basis of Consumer Reports® Best Buy Drugs™, a series that provides consumers unbiased information about prescription medications. Notable Best Buy Drugs™ reports include those assessing Alzheimer's disease drugs (PDF File, 945.4 KB), choosing antidepressant medications (PDF File, 1.74 MB), the use of oral drugs to treat Type 2 diabetes (PDF File, 2.78 MB), and evaluating drugs to treat an overactive bladder (PDF File, 860 KB).
- The American College of Physicians (ACP) has used EPC reports to create guidelines for a primary care audience on topics such as screening for osteoporosis, treatment of depression, and treatment of dementia. EPC-informed ACP guidelines have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.
- The American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines, and the Heart Rhythm Society used an EPC report to develop a Guideline for the Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation.
- Kaiser Permanente uses EPC reports, as well as information from AHRQ's National Guideline ClearinghouseTM, to develop guidelines for clinicians who serve 10.6 million members in eight States and the District of Columbia. A recent example is Kaiser Permanente's use of an EPC report to inform a guideline on medications for diabetes management.
- The National Business Group on Health used AHRQ evidence reviews to create its seven-publication series titled, "A Guide for Employers: Using Comparative Effectiveness Research." Topics ranged from whether pregnant women should have labor induced to treatments for sleep apnea.
Bringing this evidence to the front lines of care requires a continued commitment to serve the needs of both clinicians and their patients. The examples here demonstrate what we're doing to ensure that research doesn't just sit on a shelf but is put to use every day to improve health care for all.