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Help a Top Health Research Institute Make Funding Decisions

Five words or less (NewsUSA) - Every week, Americans tune in to their favorite reality TV shows and vote on who should advance to the next round. You can help decide on something far more important: which proposals the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) should fund to answer some of the health care questions that matter most to patients. Too often, patients and those who care for them are left guessing about their best options for preventing, diagnosing and treating various conditions because research hasn't answered their most pressing questions. PCORI was created to address this problem by funding research to give patients, their caregivers and clinicians the evidence needed to make decisions that reflect their preferences. There is no shortage of questions that need to be explored through high-quality research. PCORI gets hundreds of research proposals but only funds those most likely to improve practice and patient outcomes. PCORI takes a unique approach to identifying those projects -- asking patients and others from across the health care community to work with scientists in reviewing proposals. PCORI does this through an open application system, then selects and trains members of the public to serve on application review panels. "Incorporating the incredible passion and experience of patients and caregivers into the selection of research projects is the foundation for producing information that we can all use to make decisions," says Sue Sheridan, PCORI's director of patient engagement. PCORI's patients and other stakeholder reviewers conduct an online review of up to 10 proposals. They then meet with scientific reviewers to make recommendations about which proposals to fund. PCORI makes final decisions based on their input. "It was a rewarding experience," said Crystal Brown-Tatum, a Houston, Texas, patient advocate who recently participated as a reviewer. "Everyone on the panel wanted to hear my thoughts. They appreciated what the patients were bringing to the panel." PCORI hopes to build a diverse community of reviewers who can help identify patient-centered projects likely to produce useful, real-world evidence. "The great thing about PCORI is that they provide training, and that was really helpful to me," Kim Bailey, research director for Families USA, a Washington, D.C., based patient advocacy organization, said of her reviewer experience. "It made me feel like I went in to the review process prepared." If you would like to help shape the future of research designed to help patients make better health care decisions, visit PCORI's website, pcori.org, for more information about how to apply.