Background: In the debate on improving the quality and efficiency of the United States healthcare system, comparative effectiveness research is increasingly seen as a tool for reducing costs without compromising outcomes. Furthermore, the recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act explicitly describes a prioritization function for establishing a comparative effectiveness research agenda. However, how such a function, in terms of methods and process, would go about identifying the most important priorities warranting further research has received little attention.
Objectives: This study describes an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality-funded pilot project to translate one current comparative effectiveness review into a prioritized list of evidence gaps and research questions reflecting the views of the healthcare decision makers involved in the pilot.
Methods: To create a prioritized research agenda, we developed an interactive nominal group process that relied on a multistakeholder workgroup scoring a list of research questions on the management of coronary artery disease.
Results: According to the group, the areas of greatest uncertainty regarding the management of coronary artery disease are the comparative effectiveness of medical therapy versus percutaneous coronary interventions versus coronary artery bypass grafting for different patient subgroups; the impact of diagnostic testing; and the most effective method of developing performance measures for providers.
Conclusions: By applying our nominal group process, we were able to create a list of research priorities for healthcare decision makers. Future research should focus on refining this process because determining research priorities is essential to the success of developing an infrastructure for comparative effectiveness research.