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 April 2018
Page originally created September 2012
Internet Citation: Appendix A. Standardized Selection Criteria for Topics. Content last reviewed April 2018. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.