trust an unpredictable, opaque process. All deliberations should be open to encourage public participation and public confidence and to ensure the inclusion of a wide variety of perspectives. The PSAC should post key documents on its website, including meeting announcements and decisions concerning priorities, and should allow time for public comment on documents that support the priority setting process.


The PSAC should consider a broad range of topics, including, for example, new, emerging, and well-established health services across the full spectrum of health care (e.g., preventive interventions, diagnostic tests, treatments, rehabilitative therapies, and end-of-life care and palliation); community-based interventions such as immunization initiatives or programs to encourage smoking cessation; and research methods and data sources for the analysis of comparative effectiveness.

Identifying Potential Topics

There should be an open and inclusive topic nomination process that cultivates input from the key end users, such as the developers of guidelines and quality measures, patients, clinicians, and payers. Although the nomination process should not be overly burdensome to potential nominators, its methods, schedules, and information requirements should be standardized and predictable from year to year.

Topic nominations may not necessarily translate readily into answerable research questions. The AHRQ Effective Health Care Program requires nominators to provide standardized information in a template (Appendix C) that helps to clarify the focus of the suggested topic and to draw out the salient questions underlying the topic nomination. The PSAC should consider this approach.

Identifying Priority Topics

The PSAC should develop the selection criteria, with Program staff providing necessary research support. The committee believes that two considerations should be paramount in developing the selection criteria: (1) how well the topic reflects the clinical questions of patients and clinicians and (2) the potential for a large impact on clinical and other outcomes that matter the most to patients. It will be important to include criteria that indicate potential impacts, such as the burden of disease; economic factors, such as the costs of treatment and the economic burden of disease; unex-

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