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AHCPR Calls for Researchers to Assess Quality Improvement Strategies, Will Award up to $2 Million for Projects

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Press Release Date: January 26, 1999

The U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) announced that it is seeking research proposals to assess quality improvement strategies, including education, the use of information systems, continuous quality improvement, behavioral interventions, academic detailing and use of regulations. AHCPR will award up to $2 million in fiscal year 1999 to support the first year of four to seven grants. Letters of intent are requested by March 1, 1999 and applications for funding must be received by the agency by April 22, 1999.

"These projects will bolster our understanding of which quality improvement efforts work for which conditions, which types of patients, and under what circumstances," said AHCPR Administrator, John M. Eisenberg, M.D. "The findings from these studies will strengthen the underlying evidence base for efforts to bring better care to all Americans."

Dr. Eisenberg said recent progress in quality measurement has not been complemented by comparable advancement in the ability to systematically translate the progress into quality improvement. As a result, a substantial gap between the two has developed and will likely widen without focused research to provide an evidence base for the application of quality improvement strategies in clinical policy making. This problem was also recognized by the President's Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry, when it recommended the continued development and dissemination of evidence-based information to guide management policies for improving health care quality.

AHCPR says it wants applicants to focus on evaluating strategies that target areas where the greatest improvements in health and functional status can occur, where reliable and valid measures exist, and where a variety of strategies are being employed. Moreover, applicants are encouraged to develop working partnerships between existing health care quality improvement efforts through established mechanisms, such as Peer Review Organizations, Quality Improvement Organizations, purchasers groups, health plans, and accrediting bodies, and academic researchers. Furthermore, AHCPR hopes that awardees will participate in collaborative efforts involving other awardees to examine issues affecting generalizability, analyses of pooled data measures of the impact of interventions and other cross-cutting questions.

In an effort to broaden capacity and promote the development of new quality-of-care researchers, AHCPR will give special consideration to applications from minority investigators and from researchers not currently serving as principal investigators of other agency-sponsored research projects.

The new Request for Applications was made possible by a $25-million increase in the agency's research budget for FY 1999. The RFA is part of a series of three new calls for research on the quality of health care. The first of these RFAs, Measures of Quality of Care for Vulnerable Populations, was published in the NIH Guide on December 22, 1998, and the second, Translating Research into Practice, was published by the NIH Guide on January 8, 1999.

To access the Request for Applications for the Assessment of Quality Improvement Strategies in Health Care (HS99-002), see the January 22, 1999 issue of the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts at Applications forms and print copies of the RFA are also available from the AHCPR Publications Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 8547, Silver Spring, MD 20907-8547; phone 800-358-9295.

Editor's Note: AHCPR has released its new Strategic Plan outlining the agency's vision for fostering health care research that helps the American health care system provide access to high quality, cost-effective service; be accountable ands responsive to consumers and purchasers; and improve health status and quality of life. To realize this vision, AHCPR will pursue research and promote the translation of research into practice in three critical areas: supporting improvements in health outcomes; strengthening quality measurement and improvement; and identifying strategies to improve access, foster appropriate use of health care, and reduce unnecessary expenditures. AHCPR's Strategic Plan is available online at

For additional information, contact AHCPR Public Affairs: Karen Migdail, (301) 427-1855 (

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