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AHRQ--Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Advancing Excellence in Health Care
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Help and Support

The Effective Health Care Program produces three primary products:

  • Research reviews: These comprehensive reports draw on completed scientific studies to make head-to-head comparisons of different health care interventions. They also show where more research is needed.

    There are two types of research reviews:
    1. Comparative effectiveness and effectiveness reviews outline the effectiveness – or benefits and harms – of treatment options.
    2. Technical briefs explain what is known – and what is not known – about new or emerging health care tests or treatments.
  • Original research reports: These reports are based on clinical research and studies that use health care databases and other scientific resources and approaches to explore practical questions about the effectiveness – or benefits and harms – of treatments.
  • Research summaries: These short, plain-language documents – tailored to clinicians, consumers, or policymakers – summarize research review findings on the benefits and harms of different treatment options. Consumer research summaries provide useful background on health conditions. Clinician and policymaker resarch summaries rate the strength of evidence behind a report’s conclusions. The resarch summaries on medications also contain basic wholesale price information.

Consumer Research Summaries

Research reports are written as scientific documents that are often difficult for many consumers, patients, and caregivers to read and understand. Because of this, the Effective Health Care Program has created consumer research summaries that provide you with the information in an easy-to-read format. These summaries are a tool to help you understand your condition and the choices that are available to you. The summary will tell you the evidence that exists about the benefits and risks for each choice. The summary will also tell you the evidence of other important things to consider when making a treatment decision, such as other conditions you may have or other medicines you may be taking. With this information, you can communicate with your clinician about the various choices and together come up with the right option for you.

There are also products that offer summaries for clinicians and health policymakers.

Finding Research Summaries:

You can find comparative effectiveness research findings related to your condition or interest in a variety of ways.

The "Search for Research Summaries, Reviews, and Reports" page does the searching for you.

On the "Search for Research Summaries, Reviews, and Reports" page, you will see a search bar to help you navigate through the different types of research summaries and reports available. You may search by keyword, health condition, or type of research. Below is a picture of how the search bar will appear.

Search bar to find guides, reviews, and reports


Search by keyword

One way to find the resarch summaries or reports you're interested in is to search by keyword. Simply enter the keyword which best describes the kind of summary or report you are looking for and hit "Search," as indicated in the picture below.

Search by keyword to find research summaries, reviews, and reports



Search by health condition

Another way to find the summaries you are looking for is to search by health condition. Simply click the arrow on the "Search by Health Condition" drop-down menu and select the health condition which best relates to the types of summary you are looking for. You may also choose a sub-category to further narrow your search.

Search by health condition to find guides, reviews, and reports



Is this what I’m looking for? Topic Overviews tell you quickly

Once you have identified the type of research you would like to search for, the simplest way to find the guides you're looking for is by reading the topic overview of the products. These overviews provide a brief summary of the research. To view the overview for a product, roll over the title of the topic you are interested in with your mouse. When you hover the mouse over the title of the topic you are interested in learning more about, the topic overview should pop up as indicated in the picture below.

Search bar with topic overview

Using Comparative Effectiveness Research

  • You can use the summaries as a way of understanding the condition.
  • You can use the summaries as a way to help you better think through some of the important issues about testing or treating a health condition, such as the benefits and possible risks for each testing or treatment option.
  • Patients can also use the summaries as a tool to help guide the conversation with their clinician about possible treatment or test options for a specific condition. The summaries will offer you questions to ask your clinician and things that you need to tell your clinician when you are choosing a test, treatment, or procedure for your health condition.

Ready to get started? Search for research summaries, reviews, and reports now.