Pragmatic measures: what they are and why we need them

Am J Prev Med. 2013 Aug;45(2):237-43. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.03.010.


Pragmatic measures are important to facilitate implementation and dissemination, address stakeholder issues, and drive quality improvement. This paper proposes necessary and recommended criteria for pragmatic measures, provides examples of projects to develop and identify such measures, addresses potential concerns about these recommendations, and identifies areas for future research and application. Key criteria for pragmatic measures include importance to stakeholders in addition to researchers, low burden, broad applicability, sensitivity to change, and being actionable. Examples of pragmatic measures are provided, including ones for different settings (e.g., primary care, hospital) and levels (e.g., individual, practitioner, setting) that illustrate approaches to produce broad-scale dissemination and the development of brief, standardized measures for use in pragmatic studies. There is an important need for pragmatic measures to facilitate pragmatic research, guide quality improvement, and inform progress on public health goals, but few examples are currently available. Development and evaluation of pragmatic measures and metrics would provide useful resources to advance science, policy, and practice.

MeSH terms

  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Evidence-Based Practice / standards*
  • Health Services Research / standards*
  • Humans
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care / methods*
  • Patient Care Management / standards*
  • Patient Care Planning
  • Quality Improvement