Preface

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), through its Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs), sponsors the development of evidence reports and technology assessments to assist public- and private-sector organizations in their efforts to improve the quality of health care in the United States. The reports and assessments provide organizations with comprehensive, science-based information on common, costly medical conditions and new health care technologies and strategies. The EPCs systematically review the relevant scientific literature on topics assigned to them by AHRQ and conduct additional analyses when appropriate prior to developing their reports and assessments.

To improve the scientific rigor of these evidence reports, AHRQ supports empiric research by the EPCs to help understand or improve complex methodologic issues in systematic reviews. These methods research projects are intended to contribute to the research base in and be used to improve the science of systematic reviews. They are not intended to be guidance to the EPC program, although may be considered by EPCs along with other scientific research when determining EPC program methods guidance.

AHRQ expects that the EPC evidence reports and technology assessments will inform individual health plans, providers, and purchasers as well as the health care system as a whole by providing important information to help improve health care quality. The reports undergo peer review prior to their release as a final report.

We welcome comments on this Methods Research Project. They may be sent by mail to the Task Order Officer named below at: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 540 Gaither Road, Rockville, MD 20850, or by email to vog.shh.qrha@cpe.

Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D.

Director

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Stephanie Chang, M.D., M.P.H.

Director

Evidence-based Practice Program

Center for Outcomes and Evidence

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

Kim Marie Wittenberg, M.A.

Task Order Officer

Center for Outcomes and Evidence

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality