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Decoding PCORI, PCOR, and CER as Part of Villages Healthy Aging Research

The “Villages Healthy Aging Research Engagement” project is funded with support from PCORI. This post provides background information about PCORI as an organization, its focus on patient-centered outcomes comparative clinical effectiveness research (PCOR/CER), and how the Villages project aligns with this focus.


What is PCORI?

PCORI stands for “Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.” It is an independent, national organization established through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. As a funder, PCORI contracts with academic, nonprofit, and for-profit research organizations, as well as governmental entities and instrumentalities. Its mission is to “help people make informed healthcare decisions and improve healthcare delivery and outcomes by producing and promoting high integrity, evidence-based information that comes from research guided by patients, caregivers, and the broader healthcare community” (https://www.pcori.org/engagement/research-fundamentals/pcori-approach-pcor). Consistent with this mission, PCORI funds projects that advance PCOR/CER –a specific type of health research, as explained below.


What is PCOR/CER?

First, let’s start with “CER.” This acronym is short for “comparative clinical effectiveness research.” Clinical effectiveness research refers to studies on the impact of interventions for improving health. Comparative clinical effective research is research that compares two types of interventions that have some evidence to support their effectiveness.

Second, “PCOR” refers to patient-centered outcomes research. PCOR studies outcomes that are deliberately measured and actually matter to the people whom the interventions are intended to benefit. In the context of healthy aging research with Villages, PCOR studies will ensure that the projects are testing the specific aspects of healthy aging that matter to Village members the most. In fact, a main objective of this project is to discern what these outcomes are.

When we put it together, PCOR/CER in the context of Villages means comparative clinical effectiveness research with Villages that investigates health outcomes that are of great importance for Village participants.


Village members are not “Patients,” and most Villages do not provide clinical services. How does this project fit with PCORI then?

It is true that PCORI typically supports projects that operate in healthcare settings and address questions regarding the relative effectiveness of clinical interventions. Who we might refer to in other fields as “clients,” “participants,” or “members,” the healthcare arena refers to as “patients.” In this project, the focal “patients” are older adult Village members. One of the goals of this project is to understand from the perspective of Village members and leaders their perspectives on the place of CER in Villages healthy aging research. While we do not anticipate nor expect Villages themselves to provide clinical health services, there is potential, for example, to advance evidence on how to forge more effective linkages between Villages as community organizations with healthcare services for improving the effectiveness of healthy aging interventions.


What does it mean that this project is an engagement award?

While PCORI does fund many research projects, this particular project is funded under the “Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award” program, which is not for actual research projects. PCORI Engagement Awards aim to “bring more patients, caregivers, clinicians, and other healthcare stakeholders into the research process” (https://help.pcori.org/hc/en-us/articles/202857654-What-are-the-PCORI-Engagement-Awards-) by intentionally including them and centering their experiences in all phases of the project—from conceptualization and design to the dissemination of findings. In other words, engagement awards are for projects that can help plan and design future PCOR/CER studies that value and prioritize the experiences and perspectives of the people being studied.

This project’s four primary components (i.e., Zoom discussion groups, ambassadors group, virtual summits, and website) all serve to spur national dialogue on the possibilities of PCOR/CER with Villages. This dialogue is essential for enhancing the capacity of Villages and researchers alike to plan and conduct future collaborative research on Villages and healthy aging.


How can I learn more?

To learn more about PCORI, click here for an interactive pdf that provides information about PCORI’s mission, approach, and impact.

To learn more about PCORI’s efforts to engage patient stakeholders in research, check out this collection of video clips. We recommend in particular the videos included in the tab “Why Do Patients and Stakeholders Engage in Research?”


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