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$3.4 million earmarked for research projects on improving health care quality

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has earmarked more than $3.4 million in total projected funding over the next 3 years for 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 help them make better informed choices about health and health care services.

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

Information about quality in a randomized evaluation. Principal investigator: Patrick S. Romano, M.D., University of California, Davis. Total projected funding: $1,157,160. Project period: 9/30/00 - 8/31/03.

The researchers will identify factors associated with consumers' use of employer-disseminated information about health plan and medical group performance. The goal is to determine if and how consumers use or do not use this information during open enrollment. They will study the use of comparative health plan reports by employees, retirees, and families of the California Public Employees' Retirement System's (CalPERS).

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.

The researchers 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. They 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 men and women with limited education.

Quality factors in nursing home choice. Principal investigator: Joann G. Congdon, Ph.D., University of Colorado Health Science Center, Denver. Total projected funding: $732,477. Project period: 9/30/00 - 8/31/03.

The researchers will develop and evaluate information strategies to help consumers use quality factors in making nursing home choices. They will interview consumers and health care providers who help consumers make decisions about nursing home care to determine their information needs, uses, and values and develop a prototype report card using public domain information.

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.

The researchers will develop and evaluate a general education booklet to help people as they think about their risk for cancer and try to balance their risk and the benefits of treatment. They also 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 was funded solely by NCI.

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