Scientific and organizational collaboration in comparative effectiveness research: the VA cooperative studies program model

Am J Med. 2010 Dec;123(12 Suppl 1):e24-31. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2010.10.005.


Comparative effectiveness research (CER) has the ability to improve health and inform patients, clinicians, and decision makers. However, calls for more devoted efforts with regard to CER have been countered by methodological, resource, and translational challenges related to conducting these studies. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Cooperative Studies Program (CSP) is a clinical research infrastructure that has contributed much evidence to support clinical practice for several decades. Although the CSP does not exclusively focus on CER, it employs strategies that lend themselves toward the planning and execution of studies that seek to compare interventions and/or strategies for treating disease. Consequently, the CSP provides a model for addressing important scientific, structural, and operational factors for clinical research, including large, national and multinational comparative effectiveness studies. Exploration of the difficulties the CSP has encountered can help to elucidate barriers that face CER. This article discusses factors and approaches for collaboratively developing and conducting definitive studies that produce outcomes aimed at influencing clinical practice, lessons that have resulted from such efforts, and ongoing challenges. Future program directions are also presented to highlight areas of emphasis and implications for CER within the VA and nationally.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Advisory Committees
  • Clinical Trials as Topic* / methods
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research / methods
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research / organization & administration*
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research / trends
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Research Design
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs*