PCORI solicits public input on its research funding priorities

New institute seeks comments on definition of “patient-centered outcomes research” and topics for first round of grants.

By Christine Jamieson

The Board of Governors of the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) recently issued two calls for public input to help determine the institute’s research priorities.  As described previously, PCORI was established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (the health care reform law) as an independent, non-profit organization to support research on how to most effectively prevent, treat, and manage diseases and disorders. 

Call for Input on Definition of “Patient-Centered Outcomes Research”

On July 20, PCORI announced (PDF, 112KB) a 45-day period for public input on its working definition of “patient-centered outcomes research.”  The deadline for submitting input is September 2.  The definition will ultimately guide the types of research that the institute funds.  In its current format, the working definition is composed of two parts: a list of patient-focused questions and a list of ways that PCORI intends to answer those questions.  The text of the working definition and the feedback form are posted on the PCORI website

The American Psychological Association (APA) will submit comments and encourages psychological scientists to submit their own comments as well, particularly regarding the important role of behavioral and social science approaches to understanding health and developing interventions.  To share your feedback with APA, send an email to APA’s Science Government Relations Office.

Call for Input on Topics for PCORI’s First Competitive Grants

On August 1, PCORI announced (PDF, 765KB) a second call for public input, on a list of eight initial topics the governing board has identified for a series of “Tier 1” pilot projects.   This 30-day public comment period ends on August 31.  The functions of the Tier 1 projects will be to “assist PCORI in establishing national priorities for research, support the development of novel methods or the collection of preliminary data that can be used to advance the field of patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR), and inform the development of a future PCORI research agenda.”

According to the most recent report of PCORI’s finances at the board meeting in July, the institute’s budget contains $13 million for the Tier 1 grants.  Methods and approaches appropriate for the pilot projects include “observational methodologies, systematic reviews, mixed methods and qualitative methodologies, simulations, small pragmatic pilot trials and survey methods.” 

Most visibly relevant to psychological science are topics 6, 7, and 8, which address behaviors, lifestyles, and choices; patient-clinician interaction; and autonomy and decision-making.   Other topics cover such domains as health disparities; collaborations among patients, families, and researchers; and translation of research findings into practice. The full list of topics and instructions for submitting comments are posted on the PCORI website.  Again, psychological scientists may also share their comments with APA (send email to APA’s Science Government Relations Office).

PCORI to Issue Funding Announcement in Late September

PCORI has announced that it will issue the request for applications for the Tier 1 pilot project grants in late September.  The institute is currently planning to collaborate with the National Institutes of Health on the grant application review process.  At a meeting in May, board members expressed that they are particularly interested in projects that can produce results in a relatively short period of time.  “We’re looking for quick solutions here,” said Program Development Committee Chair Richard Kuntz. 

A timeline presented at the board’s July meeting indicated that letters of intent will likely be due in November and applications in December.  Peer review is slated for January and February of 2012, and it is expected that awards will be issued in April of 2012. 

First Executive Director Takes Office

Joe Selby (PDF, 137KB) formally began his role as the first Executive Director of PCORI on July 1.  As Executive Director, Selby will oversee PCORI’s organizational development and public communications and will implement programs authorized by the Board of Governors (with guidance as well from a 17-member Methodology Committee).  A family physician, clinical epidemiologist, and health services researcher, Selby was Director of Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research for 13 years.  His recently published research includes studies of correlates of depression among people with diabetes and of adherence to prescribed medications.

Christine Jamieson is Science Policy Associate in the APA Science Government Relations Office.