Translating comparative effectiveness into practice: the case of diabetes medications

Med Care. 2010 Jun;48(6 Suppl):S153-8. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e3181d5956c.


Background: In recent years, there has been significant interest and investment in conducting comparative effectiveness research (CER) of medical treatments to improve the quality of care and reduce costs. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has been leading this effort and has invested a significant amount of resources to advance CER. However, little is known about translating the findings from CER into routine practice such that it provides value to the patients, clinicians, and the healthcare system.

Methods: We present the role of shared decision making for patient-centered CER translation and its application to diabetes medications. CER of oral diabetes medications suggests that all medications are similar in their effects on glycemic control, but there is variability in side-effects, which may affect medication adherence and treatment intensification. Shared decision making, facilitated by tools such as decision aids, may enhance the quality of diabetes care by activating patients, enhancing the patient-clinician communication, and improving uptake and adherence to the medication that is determined to be consistent with patients' goals, values, and preferences. We describe the iterative, multidisciplinary process for developing and testing a diabetes medication decision aid, and examine the implications for CER translation.

Results: In our pilot study we found the decision aid to be acceptable to patients and providers and effective for knowledge translation; however, it did not impact short-term outcomes.

Discussion: Our pilot trial found that decision aids enhanced the discussion about diabetes medications without any adverse effects on the outcomes. Further issues related to the use of decision aids to translate CER need to be addressed in larger trials to understand the effectiveness and efficiency of translating evidence into routine practice in unique contexts of patients, providers, and healthcare systems.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research*
  • Decision Making*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / economics
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Participation
  • Pilot Projects
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Hypoglycemic Agents