AHRQ's Role in the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) Cycle

The Promise of Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR)

It takes an average of 17 years for new medical evidence to be incorporated into clinical practice, according to the Institute of Medicine. Investments to overcome barriers and promote the use of evidence in practice are needed to close this gap and improve patient outcomes more quickly. To achieve this goal, AHRQ invests in disseminating and supporting implementation of PCOR findings into practice.

The PCOR Cycle

Arrows form a circle to show AHRQ's role in the PCOR cycle: Identifying Evidence Gaps points to Researching Answers (PCORI, NIH, DOD, VA), which points to Disseminating Evidence, which points to Delivering Health Care (Patients, Families, Health Care Professionals, Health Systems), which points to Identifying Evidence Gaps to complete the cycle.

PCOR is part of a powerful cycle of research and practice continually informing each other.

  • Delivering Health Care: Every day health care professionals working within health care systems deliver health care to millions of Americans.
  • Identifying Evidence Gaps: During delivery of care, health care professionals in partnership with patients and families uncover important questions for which there are no clear answers.
  • Researching Answers: PCOR discovers answers to the questions that patients care about.
  • Disseminating Evidence: In order for health systems and health care professionals to use PCOR findings to improve the health of their patients, research must be synthesized, translated, and implemented.

The cycle starts all over again when, by observing the impact of new evidence on patient outcomes, health care professionals, along with patients and families, uncover the next set of research questions.

The pace at which this cycle is completed reflects how rapidly patients can benefit from advances in health care research. Differences in the rate at which this cycle is completed can contribute to health care disparities.

AHRQ’s Role in the PCOR Cycle

Research leads to the discovery of ways to improve health and health care. AHRQ’s scientific process combines individual research studies to identify evidence related to a particular aspect of health care delivery.  For this evidence to make a difference for patients, it must be communicated to clinicians who have the capacity to implement it AHRQ’s role is to make sure that PCOR findings are known, understood, and used.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), National Institutes of Health (NIH) , Department of Defense (DOD), and the Veteran’s Administration (VA) fund PCOR.  AHRQ creates evidence syntheses from PCOR findings and develops tools and trainings to ensure that PCOR evidence is more easily understood.  Next, AHRQ disseminates the evidence and supports health systems and health care professionals in using the evidence to improve practice.   By partnering with patients and families, together, AHRQ, PCORI, NIH, DOD, and the VA are working to improve the health and health care for all Americans.  

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Page last reviewed October 2016
Page originally created September 2016
Internet Citation: AHRQ's Role in the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) Cycle. Content last reviewed October 2016. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/pcor/dissemination-of-pcor/ahrq-role-in-pcor-cycle.html