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Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research

The Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research (COER) was created in 1989 when the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, now the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), was established by Congress. The purpose of the Center is to conduct and support studies on the outcomes and effectiveness of diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive health care services and procedures. Specifically, the Center:

  • Conducts and supports research, evaluation, and demonstrations of the effectiveness of clinical interventions in improving patient outcomes.
  • Directs an extramural and intramural research center program on medical effectiveness and patient outcomes.
  • Manages and conducts research and related activities to improve methods and measures for outcomes and effectiveness research.
  • Supports research to enhance the safe and appropriate use of therapeutics, including pharmaceuticals and devices.
  • Represents the Agency in meetings with domestic and international experts and organizations concerned with medical effectiveness and outcomes research.

Research Portfolio

Outcomes research was developed to address pragmatic questions confronting clinicians and patients daily:

  • What works?
  • What doesn't?
  • For which patients?
  • When in the course of an illness?
  • At what cost?

At the outset, the research program in COER consisted of three major foci, complemented by a rich portfolio of investigator-initiated research:

  • Patients Outcomes Research Teams (PORTs and PORT IIs). Criteria for the first generation of PORTs included a focus on specific conditions that were common, costly, and for which there was known to be well-documented evidence on substantial variation in practice. The PORTs were required to follow a very specific sequence and approach over a 5-year period. The second phase of PORTs or PORT-IIs offered investigators more flexibility in selecting research designs and methods, in part due to increasing recognition that the science base was much better developed in some areas (e.g., coronary artery disease) than others (e.g., mostly surgical conditions).
  • Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research Program. This program supports the study of relative effectiveness, appropriateness, and cost-effectiveness of alternative strategies for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of clinical conditions. A total of 18 research grants have been funded with a focus on:
    • Data and analytic methods involved in the study of drug therapy effectiveness.
    • Factors affecting the appropriateness of drug prescribing.
    • The role of the patient in drug therapy effectiveness.
    • Pharmaceutical economic analysis.
    • The effects on patient outcomes of changes in the health care environment.
  • Minority Health Research Centers. These Centers focused on building capacity among minority health researchers and for the study of outcomes research for minority populations.

Current priority areas for COER's new national initiatives focus on translating research into practice:

  • TRIP II (Translating Practice Into Research II), with the Centers for Practice and Technology Assessment and Quality Measurement and Improvement.
  • EXCEED (Excellence Centers for Eliminating Disparities), a centers of excellence program that will examine why disparities in health care delivery associated with race and ethnicity occur, to inform interventions for the elimination of disparities.
  • CERTs, the Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics. This program supports research that will improve the safe and effective use of therapeutics (drugs, biologics and devices). The CERTs Web site is

Additional areas of concentration include:

  • Health outcomes measurement (Note: Health Outcomes Methodology Symposium Proceedings. Medical Care Supplement (2000); Vol 38 No. 9).
  • A new research initiative in clinical economics.
  • A new research initiative to examine the role of the health care system in improving outcomes for women who are victims of intimate partner violence.


Acting Director: Heddy Hubbard, M.P.H., R.N.

William B. Baine, M.D.
Jenae Benns
Joanne Book
Lynn A. Bosco, M.D., M.P.H.
Sepheen Byron
Yen-pin Chiang, Ph.D.
Judy Consalvo
Steven H. Fox, M.D., M.P.H.
David Hsia, J.D., M.D., M.P.H.
William Lawrence, M.D., M.S.
Charlotte A. Mullican, M.P.H.
Joanna E. Siegel, Sc.D.
Patricia Hinton Walker, Ph.D., F.A.A.N.

Administrative and Support Staff

Amanda Boswell
Charlene Joy
Amy Lindinha
Angela Nunley


You can reach the Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research at:

Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
540 Gaither Road, Suite 6000
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: (301) 427-1600
Fax: (301) 427-1639

Current as of March 2003

The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care