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$3.4 Million for New AHRQ Research Projects Aimed at Putting Research to Work to Improve Health Care Quality

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Press Release Date: November 21, 2000

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) today announced the award of more than $3.4 million in total projected funding over the next three years to fund four new research demonstration projects that will enhance the health care system's ability to provide patients with information on health care quality. These projects are an integral part of AHRQ's initiatives designed to give health care decisionmakers evidence-based information to make better informed choices about health and health care services.

These grants are funded under AHRQ's Request for Applications (RFA) entitled "Making Quality Count for Consumers and Patients," released on January 5, 2000. The goal of the RFA, which was co-sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), was to seek demonstration projects that facilitate consumer and patient use of information on quality in health care.

The newly funded projects are:

  • Information About Quality in a Randomized Evaluation. Principal investigator: Patrick S. Romano, M.D., University of California, Davis, CA. Total projected funding: $1,157,160. Project period: 9/30/00-8/31/03.

    This project will identify factors associated with consumers' use of employer-disseminated information about health plan and medical group performance and determine if and how consumers use or do not use this information during open enrollment. The project will study the use of comparative health plan reports by employees, retirees, and their families of the California Public Employees' Retirement System's (CalPERS). In Phase I, investigators will conduct an observational study of current use of comparative health plan reports by CalPERS employees, retirees, and their families. In Phase II, investigators will conduct a randomized control trial (RCT) linked to the fall 2002 CalPERS open enrollment. The RCT will test the relative effects of the two major components in the intervention: information content and education/motivation.

  • Helping Elders Include Quality in Health Plan Choice. Principal investigator: Lauren D. Harris-Kojetin, Ph.D., Research Triangle Institute, Research Triangle Park, NC. Total projected funding: $1,090,711. Project period: 9/30/00-8/31/03.

    This project will develop and evaluate an integrated information and decision support strategy for use by employee benefits staff in counseling employees aged 60-64 about their Medicare plan options. The study will examine how best to develop a system to integrate comparative quality, cost, and benefit information with motivational, educational, and decision support in a way that works for older persons with limited education. This project will develop and cognitively test two types of materials (paper and computer prototype) and will test the materials in a small-scale demonstration and evaluation.

  • Quality Factors in Nursing Home Choice. Principal investigator: Joann G. Congdon, Ph.D., University of Colorado Health Science Center, Denver, CO. Total projected funding: $732,477. Project period: 9/30/00-8/31/03.

    This project will develop and evaluate information strategies to help consumers use quality factors in making nursing home choices. The investigators will interview consumers and health care providers who help them make decisions about nursing home care to determine their information needs, uses, and values. The investigators will then develop a prototype report card using public domain information, such as the Health Care Financing Administration's Minimum Data Set 2.0 (MDS), State survey citations, and staffing levels. Finally, the project will use focus groups to evaluate consumer and provider responses to the prototype report card and will examine whether responses to the report card differ by timing of the nursing home selection process. The study includes a mix of culturally diverse, urban and rural vulnerable elderly persons and their families.

  • Understanding Numbers in Health: A Primer for Patients. Principal investigator: Steven E. Woloshin, M.D., M.S., Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH. Total projected funding: $421,288. Project period: 9/29/00-9/28/02.

    This project will develop and evaluate a general education booklet to help people think about their risk for cancer and how to balance their risk and the benefit of treatment. To facilitate the communication of data by putting risk into context, the project will develop and evaluate three basic risk communication tools to supplement the general booklet: cancer risk charts, prevention benefit charts, and standard disease summary templates. This project received sole funding from NCI.

For additional information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs, (301) 427-1364: Salina Prasad, (301) 427-1864.

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