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New Training Program to Address Challenging Health Care Questions

NWCPHP’s new Patient Centered Outcomes Research Partnership (PCORP) will train scientists and clinicians.

NWCPHP’s new Patient Centered Outcomes Research Partnership (PCORP) will train scientists and clinicians to conduct research on results that matter to patients.

September 4, 2014

Health care systems in the United States face complex issues that raise difficult questions. Are we generating and effectively using evidence on the benefits and harms of medical interventions? Do our health care decisions improve population health? Answering these questions requires knowing more about what matters to patients and other stakeholders.

NWCPHP’s new Patient Centered Outcomes Research Partnership (PCORP) aims to answer these questions by developing a new group of investigators who can design and conduct research on patient-centered outcomes and on the comparative effectiveness of medical treatments.

“This is an innovative educational and experiential training program for scientists and clinicians in our region,” said PCORP Principal Investigator, Larry Kessler, ScD. “The big-picture goal is to strengthen their skills in conducting stakeholder-driven research to ultimately improve the quality of health care in their communities.”

PCORP is a five-year collaboration between faculty from the University of Washington and four partner organizations: the Urban Indian Health Institute, Southcentral Foundation of Alaska, Swedish Medical Center, and the WWAMI Practice and Research Network. The organizations help drive the curriculum design by identifying training needs and providing input on training formats and content.

“Each organization has its own communities and missions,” Kessler said. “In order to build a training program to meet each of their unique needs we have to be good listeners. We have to truly value collaboration.”

PCORP will have two key components, a basic and an advanced track. The basic track includes three separate cohorts of two-year trainees. In the first year, scholars participate in an in-person institute as well as webinars and other distance-related activities. In the second year, they apply the skills gained in year one to a pilot research project that addresses health disparities within their service population.

Throughout the two years, scholars work closely with a mentor from the University of Washington and one from their home organization to design a research agenda, develop and conduct pilot studies, and pursue independent funding.

The advanced track will be a peer learning network for researchers to exchange knowledge on patient-centered outcomes and comparative effectiveness research methods that emphasize the use of observational data and stakeholder input.

Kessler and his team have big plans and are thinking beyond the initial training. “Training our partners on these methods is just the first step,” he said. “We hope to develop sustainable collaborations to improve health care and health outcomes throughout the region. We believe the PCORP model for academic-community partnerships will advance the field both in the Pacific Northwest and across the United States.”

PCORP activities get underway later this month when the advisory board convenes in Seattle for the first time.

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