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Accelerating Implementation of Comparative Effectiveness Findings on Clinical and Delivery System Interventions by Leveraging AHRQ Networks (R18)

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Questions and Answers

Updated with questions received through March 5, 2010.

The following set of questions and answers features responses from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to questions from the public submitted about the Agency's funding opportunity announcement for RFA-HS-10-014: Recovery Act 2009 Limited Competition: Accelerating Implementation of Comparative Effectiveness Findings on Clinical and Delivery System Interventions by Leveraging AHRQ Networks (R18).

Question #1: We notice that RFA-HS-10-014 ARRA OS: Recovery Act 2009 Limited Competition: Accelerating Implementation of Comparative Effectiveness Findings on Clinical and Delivery System Interventions by Leveraging AHRQ Networks (R18) states a particular interest in leveraging the capabilities and resources of 3 pre-established AHRQ networks, but does not limit eligibility to these networks. Could you please clarify whether members of the 3 named networks will be at any advantage (i.e. "have an inside track?") in responding to this solicitation?
Answer #1: All applicants will be judged against a uniform set of review criteria — those specified in the RFA. Membership in one of the named networks is not included among these review criteria. We thus welcome and encourage applications from any applicants that can demonstrate the capacity to meet all the stated requirements of the RFA and have a documented track record of successfully taking proven practices to scale and/or implementing broad delivery system change. All applicants are advised to ensure that the capacities, resources, and track record of their proposed network or partnership are well-documented in their applications.

Question #2: Would the R18 be able to use the Medicaid Medical Director Learning Network as one of the networks?
Answer #2: Any applicant that can demonstrate the capacity to meet all the requirements specified in the solicitation and that has a documented track record of successfully taking proven practices to scale and/or implementing broad delivery system change is eligible to apply. Networks do not have to belong to any of the 3 named AHRQ networks, nor need they be formal entities, to be eligible to apply.

Question #3: Could the intervention proposed be modified within this grant,e.g., for a different population? For example, to increase the reach of an automated telephone intervention that has good CER findings for management of diabetes, we would add some additional intervention content to make the intervention more tailored to the needs of this population.
Answer #3: The purpose of this FOA is to promote the widespread implementation of evidence-based (e.g. already proven) interventions or findings. Thus, the main criteria against which projects will be judged are:

  • The proposed intervention has already been demonstrated to improve outcomes.
  • The project involves the large-scale, widespread adoption of the intervention across multiple delivery sites or a wide geographic area
  • The project will be implemented by broad-based, multi-stakeholder or multi-site collaborations or partnerships.

In theory, small modifications could be made and still meet the first criteria above, as long as they don't alter core elements of a proven approach or intervention. From your example it is not clear whether or not your proposed project would meet the remaining criteria.

Question #4: Can outcomes related to effectiveness also be included, in addition to a implementation tracking plan? e.g. can we include a quasi-experimental design with wait list, to examine outcomes in a comparison group?
Answer #4: As noted above, the purpose of this solicitation is to promote the widespread implementation of evidence-based (e.g. already proven) interventions or findings. Thus, while we are certainly interested in any evidence about outcomes that can be generated from the funded projects, under this FOA we are not principally seeking to fund projects that compare outcomes from different interventions (or that compare an intervention with a control). We are looking to fund the spread of already tested, successful approaches. There are other FOAs which may be better suited to your research interests, including possibly ARRA OS Recovery Act 2009 Limited Competition: Comparative Effectiveness Delivery System Evaluation Grants (R01).

Question #5: Can there be co-PIs?
Answer #5: No. Your project team can include any number of people with any number of titles, including multiple people with the same title, but for the purposes of this FOA, AHRQ will recognize only one PI.

Question #6: Is the page limit for the application 25 or 26 pages? In Section IV, under 6. Other Submission Requirements it is stated that the Specific Aims is limited to 1 page and the Research strategy is limited to 25 pages.
Answer #6: AHRQ page limits are NOT the same as NIH page limits. Applicants should follow the general guidance provided in the SF424, however, specific instructions in the FOA supersede the general instructions in the SF424.
For RFA-HS-10-014, the page limit for the Research Strategy Section is 25 pages. The one page Specific Aims is included as part of the Research Plan Component but is not included as part of the Research Strategy Section.

Question #7: Are we correct in assuming biosketches are required for key personnel only?
Answer #7: Yes.

Question #8: Is the page limit for the biosketches 2 or 4 pages?
Answer #8: Applicants should follow the instructions provided in the SF424 (R&R),Table 2.6.1 Page Limits, which state that the biosketch is limited to 4 pages per person.

Additional Questions as of March 5, 2010

Question #9: Is previous NIH funding a requirement for either the PI or the team?
Answer #9: Previous funding is not a requirement for this solicitation. However, please note that submission of a Federal grant application is a complex undertaking. Thus, if you have never submitted a Federal grant application, you may be well advised to work closely with, or seek the guidance of, an experienced researcher who can help steer you through the many requirements and procedures that it involves.

Question #10: The RFA states that “investments funded from this appropriation must address at least one of the following topic areas: 1) one of the 100 IOM topic recommendations, 2) one of the MMA 14 priority conditions, 3) one of the AHRQ-identified evidence gaps.” What are the AHRQ-identified evidence gaps?
Answer #10: AHRQ-identified evidence gaps refers to areas of research or study where more evidence is needed, as identified in research and literature reviews published by or supported by AHRQ. AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Reports (available at are examples, but are by no means the only source that identifies such gaps.

Question #11: What is AHRQ's rule regarding submitting two closely related applications in response to two different solicitations?
Answer #11: As is stated in the RFA: "Applicants may submit more than one application, provided each application is scientifically distinct. " This is the case even if you are responding to two completely different AHRQ solicitations. Thus, you are not required to withdraw your application for another solicitation in order to apply for this RFA. However, if you choose to apply for both, the burden will be on you—the applicant—to demonstrate how the two applications are scientifically distinct from one another.

Question #12: Can respondents submit an application that was reviewed elsewhere but not funded?
Answer #12: Yes. However,applicants should not use the procedure for submitting a revised application. Instead, applicants should make appropriate changes in the title and contents to align with the RFA and to respond to feedback from prior reviewers. Applicants should then submit the application as a new application.

Question #13: We are planning to submit an application jointly with two other organizations. Thus, we will complete the subaward budget sections. Do we also need to complete subcontracts and/or fill out the section for “Consortium/Contractual Arrangements"?
Answer #13: If your organization is planning to have consortium/subcontracts, then each consortium/subcontract must have a complete subaward/consortium budget component (including the budget justification section). This component should be completed by each consortium grantee organization. Please refer to section 4.8 of the SF424 (R&R) instructions for further guidance.

Question #14: Could applicants be allowed an additional 3 weeks to submit the subaward budget components?
Answer #14: No. The electronic application process does not allow for the submission of individual components separately. The application must be submitted in its entirety prior to the deadline.

Question #15: The RFA does not mention a “Project Summary/Abstract” or a “Project Narrative.” However, they are highlighted as required fields. Please clarify.
Answer #15:The project abstract is limited to 30 lines. The project narrative explains the relevance to public health. Unless instructed otherwise in the RFA, applicant organizations must follow the instructions of the SF424 (R&R).

Question #16: Is there a limit to the number of appendices and letters of support applicants may submit?
Answer #16: Since there are no specific instructions in the RFA about the appendix material or letters of support, applicants should follow the guidance given in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (available at Also see

Applicants should not use the appendices to circumvent the page limitations. An application that does not comply with the required page limitations may be delayed in the review process.

Question #17: The page limit for the application is 25 pages. Is the Specific Aims statement included in this page limit?
Answer #17: The Research Plan Component of the application should include a one-page statement of Specific Aims and a Research Strategy Section of no more than 25 pages.

Question #18: Are biosketches required for key personnel only?
Answer #18: Yes.

Question #19: What is the page limit for the biosketches?
Answer #19: The biosketches are limited to four pages per person.

Question #20: On page 14, the RFA states: “Grantees will not be responsible for the distillation and dissemination of lessons learned, nor for the analysis of outcomes and impacts. These tasks will be undertaken by AHRQ based on the information and data reported by the grantees.” Does this mean that we should NOT include an analysis plan or budget for resources aimed at outcome data analysis?
Answer #20: The statement to which you refer is intended in part to emphasize that this particular solicitation is aimed at supporting the implementation and spread of comparative effectiveness research findings, rather than at projects designed to assess the effectiveness of a particular practice or intervention. In addition, we want applicants to understand that they do not have to undertake the analysis of impacts and outcomes from their projects. That said, the inclusion of a data collection plan aimed at gathering the data that would be needed for analyses of outcomes and impacts should be included in the application. Moreover, nothing in the RFA should be taken to mean that applicants must refrain from any data collection/analysis or dissemination activities. Applicants may certainly budget for and undertake these activities, as long as the primary purpose of the project is to accelerate the implementation or spread of evidence-based findings or practices.

Current as of March 8, 2010


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