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AHCPR's evidence centers will examine quality screening, cancer risk reduction, and other health care issues

The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research's Administrator, John M. Eisenberg, M.D., has announced new research topics for the Agency's Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs). The new assignments range from finding measures to help hospitals and others spot quality-of-care problems to examining the evidence for behavioral dietary interventions to reduce cancer risk. EPCs, which serve as science partners to the Agency, synthesize their findings in reports that AHCPR publishes.

The evidence search for quality-of-care indicators assigned to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)-Stanford University EPC will focus largely on indicators that could be used to screen pediatric admissions, inpatient care for chronic medical conditions, and potentially avoidable hospital admissions (admissions that might have been avoided had the patients been managed appropriately at the primary care level).

The findings will be used by AHCPR to enhance the utility of its quality screening software tool, the Hospital Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Quality Indicators, which is currently being used by hospitals and others to improve care. The upgrade, expected to be ready by 2001, will, also, include state-of-the-art risk adjustment methods so users can compare hospital quality over time and across communities.

As part of its assignment, the UCSF-Stanford EPC will solicit recommendations from researchers and developers on potential measures of hospital quality, including those that are not yet part of the published literature.

The other assignments and the nominating organizations are:

  • Complementary and alternative medicine: Use of garlic for cardiovascular disease and cancer, and use of Silybum marianum for liver disease and cirrhosis, University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio EPC. Nominated by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  • Criteria for the referral of patients with epilepsy, MetaWorks EPC, Boston, MA. Nominated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Diagnosis and management of osteoporosis, Oregon Health Sciences University EPC, Portland, OR. Nominated by the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health.
  • Efficacy of behavioral dietary interventions to reduce cancer risk, Research Triangle Institute and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill EPC, Chapel Hill, NC. Nominated by the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health.
  • Medical informatics and telemedicine coverage under the Medicare program, Oregon Health Sciences University EPC, Portland, OR. Nominated by the Health Care Financing Administration.
  • Treatment of pulmonary disease following spinal cord injury, Duke University EPC, Durham, NC. Nominated by the Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine.

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