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Contracts awarded for 12 Evidence-based Practice Centers

The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research has awarded 12 5-year contracts to institutions in the United States and Canada that will serve as Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs). This new program is intended to help clinicians, providers, and health plans improve the quality of health care by giving them state-of-the-art scientific information on common, costly medical conditions and new health care technologies.

The EPCs will review all the relevant scientific literature on medical topics assigned to them by AHCPR and conduct additional analyses when appropriate. Their findings will be produced as "evidence reports" or technology assessments, which AHCPR will disseminate widely through its site on the World Wide Web and as printed documents. The evidence reports will serve as the scientific foundation for public- and private-sector organizations to develop tools and strategies for improving the quality of health care services they provide and pay for. Technology assessments produced by the EPCs will give health plans and payers information they need to make informed decisions about covering new and changing medical devices and procedures.

AHCPR's Evidence-based Practice Program, which includes the EPCs, and the recently announced National Guideline Clearinghouse™ will help clinicians, health plans, and other providers make critical health care decisions using the best scientific knowledge available. AHCPR's goal is to use the Internet and every other means of dissemination to ensure that this information is used to provide high quality health care services and achieve the best value possible for the money spent on health care.

The EPCs will tackle specific topics within broad areas such as adult health, child and adolescent health, maternal health, geriatrics, rehabilitation, dental health, mental health and substance abuse, alternative care, and preventive care. The first set of topics, nominated by public- and private-sector organizations in response to a solicitation published by AHCPR in November 1996, will be announced this summer.

AHCPR expects this initiative to be invaluable not only to individual clinicians, health plans, providers, and purchasers, but also to the health care system as a whole by providing important information to help reduce inappropriate variations in medical practice.

To bring the broadest range of experts into the development of evidence reports and health technology assessments, the EPCs are encouraged to form partnerships and enter into collaborations with other medical and research organizations. The EPCs will work with partner organizations to ensure that the evidence reports and technology assessments they produce will become building blocks for health care quality improvement projects throughout the country.

AHCPR's Evidence-based Practice Centers and their collaborators are:

  1. Blue Cross/Blue Shield Technical Evaluation Center, Chicago IL. Collaborators include: Kaiser Permanente and, through members of the TEC Medical Advisory Panel, the American College of Physicians; the University of Washington; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the Wisconsin School of Medicine; the University of Pittsburgh; and Johns Hopkins University.
  2. Duke University, Durham, NC. Subcontractor, Health Economics Research, Inc., Waltham, MA.
  3. ECRI, Plymouth Meeting, PA. Collaborators include the Leonard Davis Institute and the Philadelphia School of Pharmacy and Science.
  4. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. Collaborators include the University of Maryland and the Baltimore Cochrane Center.
  5. McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Collaborators include the Canadian Cochrane Center and St. Josephs Hospital.
  6. MetaWorks, Inc., Boston, MA. Collaborators include the Leonard Davis Institute and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.
  7. New England Medical Center, Boston, MA. Collaborators include the San Francisco Cochrane Center, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and the Tufts Managed Care Institute.
  8. Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland. Collaborators include Kaiser Permanente Northwest and the Northwest VA Medical Center.
  9. RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA. Collaborators include the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of California, San Diego; the University of Southern California; Cedars Sinai Hospital; Value Health Sciences; and VA Medical Centers.
  10. Research Triangle Institute and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Collaborators include: the Morehouse Medical Treatment Effectiveness Center, Morehouse School of Medicine; the Urban Health Institute, Harlem Hospital Center; and the Harvard School of Public Health, Center for Quality of Care Research and Education.
  11. The University of California, San Francisco, and Stanford University. Collaborators include the San Francisco Cochrane Center, Kaiser Permanente, and VA Medical Centers in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Menlo Park.
  12. The University of Texas, San Antonio. Collaborators include the San Antonio and San Francisco Cochrane Centers and the American College of Physicians.

AHCPR and the American Academy of Nursing announce selection of second Senior Nurse Scholar

The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, in conjunction with the American Academy of Nursing, has selected Lorraine Tulman, D.N.Sc., R.N., F.A.A.N., as the second Senior Nurse Scholar in Residence. Under this program, senior nurse scientists help AHCPR develop areas of investigation that integrate clinical nursing care questions with critical issues of quality, cost, and access to health care.

Dr. Tulman currently is an Associate Professor in the University of Pennsylvania's School of Nursing. She will be on sabbatical from that position during her appointment as Senior Nurse Scholar. For the past 10 years, Dr. Tulman's research has focused on the health of women during life transitions, specifically during childbearing and following diagnosis of cancer. During her tenure as Senior Nurse Scholar, Dr. Tulman plans to examine how clinical trial interventions not specific to women have added to our knowledge of the functional status of women. She hopes to study the relationship between clinical conclusions and national health care policy.

The Senior Nurse Scholar program is associated with AHCPR's Center for Primary Care Research which supports studies of primary care and clinical, preventive, and public health policies and systems. This includes studies of the effectiveness of education, supply, and distribution of the health care workforce. Senior nurse scholars are appointed to serve for 1 year.

Dr. Tulman received a bachelor of arts degree from New York University's Washington Square College and a bachelor of science degree, magna cum laude, from the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center. She completed her master of science degree in nursing at Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y., and earned her doctorate in nursing science from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Dr. Tulman has served as a nursing educator at several universities. She is a senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and is a research fellow with the Center for Advancing Care in Serious Illness, both at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Tulman has published numerous articles and book chapters.

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Five new projects focus on quality-of-life and cost-effectiveness issues

The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research has funded five new research projects designed to improve health outcomes, patient satisfaction, and overall quality of care. These projects are expected to provide important measures to help physicians and other providers assess patients' well-being and improve outcomes of care.

The awards total $1.19 million for the first year of the projects.

The newly funded projects are:

  • Quality of Well-Being Scale Revision Project (Grant HS09170). Principal investigator: Robert M. Kaplan, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA. Project period 1997 to 2000. First-year funding $231,035. This study will expand the application and usefulness of the Quality of Well-Being (QWB) Scale, a widely used health status measure that helps determine the quality of life. Specifically, the project will eliminate two barriers to more widespread use: the fact that the QWB cannot be self-administered and its lack of a profile of outcomes.
  • Medical Intervention Effectiveness and Outcomes in COPD (Grant HS08774). Principal investigator: David R. Carter, M.S., Ph.D., University of Texas Health Center, Tyler, TX. Project period 1997 to 2000. First-year funding $241,888. This project will determine how variations in exercise training reduce mortality and increase quality of life for patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Documenting these benefits could provide the needed justification for including exercise as part of a standard of care for COPD patients.
  • Statistical Inference for Cost-Effectiveness Analysis (Grant HS09514). Principal investigator: Joseph Gardiner, Ph.D., Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. Project period 1997 to 2000. First-year funding $198,162. This project will develop and test new statistical procedures for cost-effectiveness analyses. It will address the development of models that accurately reflect the experiences of patients in sustained and changing states of health.
  • Severity of Lower Respiratory Tract Illness in Infants (Grant HS09062). Principal investigator: Kenneth M. McConnochie, M.D., M.P.H., University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY. Project period 1997 to 2000. First-year funding $269,144. This study will develop a predictive measure of lower-respiratory tract infections in infants that could serve as a guide to which infants should be hospitalized. Lower-respiratory tract illness (LRI) is the most common reason infants are hospitalized after the neonatal period and accounts for about $700 million in health care costs annually.
  • Patient-Centered, Computer-Assisted Quality Improvement (Grant HS08823). Principal investigator: Lisa E. Harris, M.D., Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN. Project period 1997 to 1998. First-year funding $253,556. This project will extend the techniques of computer-generated reminders to improving patient satisfaction and outcomes of care. It will also conduct a randomized controlled trial testing the effect on patient outcomes of a patient-centered, computer-assisted intervention targeted toward physicians and nurses.


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AHCPR funds new grants

The following small project grants, conference grants, and National Research Service Awards were funded recently by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. Readers are reminded that the results of studies usually are not available or published until a project is completed or nearing completion.

Small Project Grants

Complements and substitutes in the production of health

Project director: Michael L. Ganz, Ph.D.
Organization: Columbia University, New York, NY
Project no: AHCPR grant HS09610
Period: 7/1/97 to 6/30/98
Funding: $30,289

Issue complexity in academic health centers

Project director: Christopher E. Johnson, B.S.
Organization: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Project no: AHCPR grant HS09593
Period: 6/1/97 to 5/31/98
Funding: $29,122

Risk-bearing arrangements and capital for financing integrated health systems

Project director: Douglas A. Conrad, Ph.D.
Organization: University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Project no: AHCPR grant HS09536
Period: 7/1/97 to 6/30/98
Funding: $73,013

Risk factors for early unscheduled visits in cancer patients

Project director: Danna J. Kurtin, M.P.H.
Organization: University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, TX
Project no: AHCPR grant HS09613
Period: 7/1/97 to 10/31/98
Funding: $26,722

Staff work in an urban medical rehabilitation hospital

Project director: Diane R. Pawlowski, M.A.
Organization: Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Project no: AHCPR grant HS09603
Period: 9/1/97 to 8/31/98
Funding: $31,659

Conference Grant

Developing standards of practice

Project director: Lawrence J. Schneiderman, M.D.
Organization: University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA
Project no: AHCPR grant HS09534
Period: 7/1/97 to 6/30/98
Funding: $30,075

National Research Service Award Fellowships

Validity of computer-based utility elicitation

Fellow: Jonathan R. Treadwell, Ph.D.
Organization: Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Project no: AHCPR grant F32 HS00122
Leslie A. Lenert, sponsor
Period: 2-year fellowship
Funding: $25,420

Utilizing primary care: Attitudes and barriers

Fellow: Anna E. Plauth, M.D.
Organization: Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Brookline, MA
Project no: AHCPR grant F32 HS00119
Thomas S. Inui, sponsor
Period: 1-year fellowship
Funding: $33,500

Managed care audiotapes now available

The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research's User Liaison Program hosted a conference on managed care March 24-26, 1997, in Boston, MA. The conference theme was "Integrated Delivery Systems in Managed Care: Challenges to State Oversight," and its objective was to help State and local health officials understand the function of provider-sponsored integrated delivery systems within a system of managed care. In particular, the conference focused on the public policy issues raised at the State level by the emergence of these systems, including licensing, quality assurance oversight, public purchasing issues, and community accountability.

Audiotapes containing a transcript of the conference are now available free from AHCPR's Publications Clearinghouse. You may order the entire set of 14 tapes (AHCPR 97-AV02), or you may order one or more individual tapes (see order numbers below). See the back cover of Research Activities for ordering information, and please use the AHCPR AV number when ordering. The tapes are organized by session, as follows:

Session 1: Welcome, Introduction and Overview; AHCPR 97-AV02(A)
Session 2: The Evolving Managed Care Marketplace: Can the Empire Strike Back? AHCPR 97-AV02(B)
Session 3: What Are Integrated Delivery Systems? Part I: Definitions; AHCPR 97-AV02(C)
Session 4: What Are Integrated Delivery Systems? Part II: Models Action; (two tapes) AHCPR 97-AV02(D, E)
Session 5: Managed Care Plan Contracts with Integrated Delivery Systems; AHCPR 97-AV02(F)
Session 6: Challenges to Public Purchasers' Contracting with Integrated Delivery Systems; AHCPR 97-AV02(G)
Session 7A: IDSs and State Oversight: Square Pegs in Round Holes? AHCPR 97-AV02(H)
Session 7C: State Oversight Issues Wrap-Up; AHCPR 97-AV02(I)
Session 8: State Interagency Collaboration; AHCPR 97-AV02(J)
Session 9: IDSs and Community Accountability; AHCPR 97-AV02(K)
Session 10: Emerging Issues for Policymakers: A Roundtable Discussion; (two tapes) AHCPR 97-AV02(L, M)
Session 11: Workshop Evaluation and Concluding Comments; AHCPR 97-AV02(N)

Note: Session 7B involved a series of break-out groups which were not taped.

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Research Briefs

Andrews, W.W., Lee, H.H., Roden, W.J., and Mott, C.W. (1997, April). "Detection of genitourinary tract Chlamydia trachomatis infection in pregnant women by ligase chain reaction assay." (AHCPR contract 290-92-0055). Obstetrics and Gynecology 89, pp. 556-560.

Chlamydia trachomatis, the most common sexually transmitted bacterial pathogen in the United States, has been linked to increased risk for preterm birth and low birthweight. But the association remains controversial, suggesting the need for further investigation with more sensitive techniques for C. trachomatis detection. These researchers compared the sensitivity and specificity of a ligase chain reaction assay of cervical swabs and voided urine with those of cervical swab tissue culture for the detection of genitourinary tract infection with C. trachomatis in 462 pregnant women during routine visits to prenatal clinics. The prevalence of infection was 6 percent by cervical culture, 18 percent by ligase chain reaction of cervical swab, and 17 percent by ligase chain reaction of urine. Ligase chain reaction of cervical swabs and urine detected 89 percent and 82 percent, respectively, of women with a positive cervical culture. The researchers conclude that ligase chain reaction testing of urine is a simple and effective means of screening pregnant women for this genitourinary tract infection.

Black, M.M., and Teti, L.O. (1997, March). "Promoting mealtime communication between adolescent mothers and their infants through videotape." (AHCPR grant HS07392). Pediatrics 99(3), pp. 432-437.

Adolescents gave birth to about one of every eight infants (13 percent) born in the United States in 1993. This study shows that brief, culturally sensitive videotapes may be an effective way to promote parenting skills among adolescent mothers. The researchers compared the mealtime communication and attitudes of black adolescent mothers who viewed a short, fast-action videotape with those of similar mothers who did not view the videotape. The tape included real-life segments of urban, adolescent mothers feeding their babies, while modeling healthy nutrition and loving communication. During baseline and followup, the young women were viewed feeding their babies, and they completed a questionnaire on attitudes toward mealtime behavior. The mothers who had viewed the videotape were more involved with their infants and reported more favorable attitudes toward feeding and communication than mothers who had not seen the videotape.

Markson, L.E., Turner, B.J., Cocroft, J., and others (1997, March). "Clinic services for persons with AIDS." (AHCPR grant HS06465). Journal of General Internal Medicine 12, pp. 141-149.

In this study of services provided to Medicaid-insured HIV-infected patients in community-based clinics in New York were significantly more likely to have longer hours, a physician on call, and to accommodate unscheduled care than were hospital-based general medicine/primary care clinics or other types of clinics. Compared with HIV-specialty clinics, hospital-based general medicine clinics were less apt to have features that facilitate HIV-specific care, such as a director of HIV care (98 percent vs. 72 percent of clinics studied), multidisciplinary conferences on HIV care (83 percent vs. 32 percent), or a standard initial HIV workup for new patients (90 percent vs. 70 percent). In addition, community-based clinics offered more ancillary services than hospital-based clinics—such as substance abuse treatment, psychological services, and case managers. At least half of the clinics in the study integrated medical and social support services in one setting by providing housing assistance and financial counseling services on site. Shifting HIV-infected Medicaid enrollees into managed care arrangements might not support a similar array of services, note the authors of the study. Their findings are based on a survey of services available in 179 New York clinics from 1987 to 1992 based on data from the New York State Medicaid HIV/AIDS Research Data Base.

McCormick, K., Renner, A.L., Mayes, R., and others (1997, April). "The Federal and private sector roles in the development of minimum data sets and core health data elements." Computers in Nursing 15(2S), pp. S23-S32.

This article describes Federal and private efforts to define minimum data sets and core data elements for health care. This has been an ongoing Federal effort for more than 25 years. The researchers report on 17 minimum data sets and core health data elements that are published or in draft form in health care to date. They include regulated data elements that are needed for reimbursement from the Health Care Financing Administration and core health data elements from the Health Resources and Services Administration. They also include recommended data elements for better reporting to the Government and private-sector initiatives that are under development, being researched, or in use to standardize data collection for assessing access, quality, and costs of health care. This framework can be used in furthering research on the development of a computer-based patient record, the acceleration of data standards, and the evaluation of vocabulary in health care.

Reprints (AHCPR Publication No. 97-R054) are available from the AHCPR Publications Clearinghouse.

Shea J.A., Healey, M.J., Berlin, J.A., and others (1996, November). "Mortality and complications associated with laparoscopic cholecystectomy: A meta-analysis." Annals of Surgery 224(5), pp. 609-620.

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 126 studies of laparoscopic (98 studies) and open cholecystectomy (28 studies) published through 1995 to compare results concerning complications, particularly bile duct injury, of the two procedures. Individual studies measured rates of mortality, common bile duct injury (such as cuts and leaks), and conversion from laparoscopic to open cholecystectomy (usually for technical problems, such as dense adhesions or inflammation). Laparoscopic cholecystectomy resulted in lower mortality rates but higher common bile duct injury rates than the open procedure. The researchers caution, however, that the increased number of patients with uncomplicated gallstone disease after the introduction of laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the United States in 1988 may explain the lower mortality rate for the procedure, which was probably performed on less difficult patients. Also, rates of common bile duct injury were higher in studies of inpatients (rather than in outpatients with fewer difficulties) and in studies beginning in 1988 through the first half of 1990, suggesting an association between injury and the surgeons' learning curve. Finally, types of complications varied considerably between studies, making it difficult to draw conclusions about the true risks associated with the procedure. However, risk of serious complications, such as pulmonary embolism, pulmonary edema, bowel injury, and myocardial infarction, is less than 5 in 1,000 for patients undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

Solberg, L.I., Mosser, G., and McDonald, S. (1997, March). "The three faces of performance measurement: Improvement, accountability, and research." (AHCPR grant HS08091). Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement 23(3), pp. 135-147.

There are increasing pressures from purchasers, legislators, and consumer advocates for public disclosure of information on patient satisfaction and other health care outcomes. However, clinicians often are wary of efforts to create quality measurement systems, in part because of the difficulties involved in developing and collecting valid and reliable quality measures. This article describes the efforts of the Institute for Clinical Systems Integration (ICSI), a quality improvement organization that bridges a managed care organization and 19 medical groups in Minnesota, to measure care for improvement purposes. The article also describes a randomized trial involving more than 40 clinics of an intervention to use continuous quality improvement to implement preventive services guidelines (the IMPROVE Project—Improving Prevention Through Organization, Vision, and Empowerment). The authors discuss the difficulties encountered and lessons learned about measuring quality during this 3-year study. In particular, they cite the need to avoid confusing measurement for accountability or research with measurement for improvement. Understanding these differences and respecting the confidentiality of individual medical groups was crucial in helping these Minnesota clinicians move past confusion and suspicion to genuine improvement actions involving multiple medical groups and managed care plans.

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AHCPR Publication No. 97-0064
Current as of July 1997

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


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