Fundamentals Briefing

Comparative Effectiveness: What Is It? Who Does It? And Where Is It Going?
February 13, 2009


Michele J. Orza, ScD


Comparative effectiveness is much in the news lately, and funding to expand national capacity for it was even included in the stimulus bill. Comparative effectiveness analysis is a tool to help providers and consumers better understand which interventions are more effective in preventing, controlling, and treating various conditions. Many have pinned high hopes on expanded comparative effectiveness programs as a vehicle for eventually reducing health care costs as evidence of the effectiveness of interventions becomes more available and is used by providers and consumers in health care decision making.

This session provided a basic overview of what comparativeness effectiveness is; how the concepts of evidence-based health and comparative effectiveness have evolved over time; issues and controversies, such as how cost-effectiveness fits into the picture; public and private sector activities in this area, with a focus on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; and a review of recent and current proposals for expanding capacity in the United States.


Bryan R. Luce, PhD, Senior Vice President, Science Policy, United BioSource Corporation; Jean Slutsky, Director, Center for Outcomes and Evidence, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Eugene C. Rich, MD, FACP, Scholar in Residence, Association of American Medical Colleges

Slides from the presentations by Dr. Luce, Ms. Slutsky, and Dr. Rich are available for download. Speakers' biographies are also available.

Related Materials

This session was the third of three follow-ups to the Forum's 2009 Medicare and Medicaid Briefings, held January 15 and 16, 2009. See also "The World of Prescription Drugs: Approvals, Pricing, and Purchasing" (January 30, 2009) and "Medicaid, Employers, and Medigap: Wrapping Around Medicare" (February 6, 2009).

This session included material condensed from an ongoing series. For details on these sessions, see the individual entries at: "Exploring Comparative Effectiveness: Fundamentals of Evidence-Based Health and Introduction to the Cochrane Collaboration" (July 25, 2008), "Exploring Comparative Effectiveness: Activities of NIH, FDA, and AHRQ to Advance Evidence-Based Health" (September 26, 2008), "Exploring Comparative Effectiveness: Activities of CDC, VA, and CMS to Advance Evidence-Based Health" (October 3, 2008), "Exploring Comparative Effectiveness: Fundamentals and Controversies of Cost-Effectiveness Analysis" (October 30, 2008; ), and "Exploring Comparative Effectiveness: Options for Expanding U.S. Capacity" (December 17, 2008).

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