Preface

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) conducts the Effective Health Care Program as part of its mission to organize knowledge and make it available to inform decisions about health care. As part of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, Congress directed AHRQ to conduct and support research on the comparative outcomes, clinical effectiveness, and appropriateness of pharmaceuticals, devices, and health care services to meet the needs of Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

AHRQ has an established network of Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs) that produce Evidence Reports/Technology Assessments and Comparative Effectiveness Reviews to assist public- and private-sector organizations in their efforts to improve the quality of health care. Technical Briefs are the most recent addition to this body of knowledge.

A Technical Brief provides an overview of key issues related to a clinical intervention or health care service—for example, current indications for the intervention, relevant patient population and subgroups of interest, outcomes measured, and contextual factors that may affect decisions regarding the intervention. Technical Briefs generally focus on interventions for which there are limited published data and too few completed protocol-driven studies to support definitive conclusions. The emphasis, therefore, is on providing an early objective description of the state of science, a potential framework for assessing the applications and implications of the new interventions, a summary of ongoing research, and information on future research needs.

Transparency and stakeholder input are essential to the Effective Health Care Program. Please visit the Web site (www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov) to see draft research questions and reports or to join an e-mail list to learn about new program products and opportunities for input. Comparative Effectiveness Reviews will be updated regularly, while Technical Briefs will serve to inform new research development efforts.

  • Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D.
  • Director
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Jean Slutsky, P.A., M.S.P.H.
  • Director, Center for Outcomes and Evidence
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality