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Finding What Works in Health Care: Standards for Systematic Reviews
port the environment for SRs of comparative effectiveness research, which is clearly in the public’s interest. PCORI is specifically named because of its statutory mandate to establish and carry out a CER research agenda. As noted above, it is charged with creating a methodology committee that will work to develop and improve the science and methods of SRs of CER and to regularly update such standards. PCORI is also required to assist the Comptroller General in reviewing and reporting on compliance with its research standards, the methods used to disseminate research findings, the types of training conducted and supported in CER, and the extent to which CER research findings are used by healthcare decision makers. The HHS agencies are specifically named because AHRQ, NIH, CDC, and other sections of HHS are major funders and producers of SRs. In particular, the AHRQ EPC program has been actively engaged in coordinating high-quality SRs and in developing SR methodology. The committee assigns these groups with responsibility and accountability for coordinating and moving the agenda ahead.
The committee found compelling evidence that having high-quality SRs based on rigorous standards is a topic of international concern, and that individual colleagues, professional organizations, and publicly funded agencies in other countries make up a large proportion of the world’s expertise on the topic. Nonetheless, the committee followed the U.S. law that brought this report into being, which suggests a management approach appropriate to the U.S. environment. A successful implementation of the final recommendation should result in an enterprise in the United States that participates fully and harmonizes with the international development of SRs, serving in some cases in a primary role, in others as a facilitator, and in yet others as a participant. The new enterprise should recognize that this cannot be entirely scripted and managed in advance—structures and processes must allow for innovation to arise naturally from those individuals and organizations in the United States already fully engaged in the topic.