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Examining the role of funders in ensuring value and reducing waste in research: An organizational case-study of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

  • Author(s): Whitlock, Evelyn P
  • Selby, Joe V
  • Dunham, Kelly M
  • Fernandez, Alicia
  • Forsythe, Laura P
  • Norquist, Grayson
  • et al.

International experts have recommended actions that funders can take to improve the value of research investments. They state that self-assessment and public sharing are the basis for accountability and improvement. We examined our policies and practice to determine the extent to which the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute's (PCORI) policies and practices as a research funder align with international best practice recommendations. A self-audit of current policies and practice against 17 recommendations and 35 sub-recommendations representing five major stages of research production, based on adapted methods used for self-assessment by another funder, was performed.  Fit of existing PCORI policies and practices with 35 sub-recommendations, qualitative assessment of adequacy (area of strength; area of partial strength; area of growth; not applicable) for 17 recommendations for five stages of research production was assessed. Of the 17 recommendations, 15 were applicable to PCORI's research mission and focus.  PCORI has policies and practices in place for all elements of six recommendations ("area of strength") and policies that address each element but with some still in active development for three ("area of partial strength"). PCORI is partially addressing six of the 15 relevant recommendations ("area of growth"). Areas for growth include making study protocols publicly available, improving policies on data sharing, and enhancing collaboration with other funders to reduce redundant funding. A voluntary consortium of international funders is underway to encourage further progress, including additional self-assessment and public sharing for accountability. These findings indicate PCORI has undertaken efforts to align its funding practices with international recommendations to ensure the value of public dollars invested in research.  Further efforts will likely require additional coordination and collaboration between funders and stakeholders.

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