Penny Mohr Q&A: Comparative Effectiveness Research and Healthcare Disparities

AJMC Staff

Penny Mohr, MA, senior program officer for improving healthcare systems at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), discusses comparative effectiveness research, healthcare disparities, and patient-centered care at the 20th annual international meeting of ISPOR.
What is the importance of comparative effectiveness research on patient-centered care?
I think it’s very essential for patient-centered care because comparative effectiveness research by definition is really to look at choices that are appropriate to patients. And so when you’re looking at those choices and doing research on which item works better than the other, the patients are making those choices and the research really needs to inform those choices. So it should relate directly back to patient-centered care.
What work is PCORI currently doing to address healthcare disparities?
We have invested over $150 million in addressing disparities research and it is one of our 5 major priorities within PCORI when the initial plan of priorities was identified by the organization. Addressing disparities is built directly into the mission for the organization.
There are several population groups that we are focusing that are high-priority population groups for addressing disparities. And those include the low-income population, people who don’t speak English, the LGBT population, racial and ethnic minorities, and rural populations. Those are the major populations that we’re focusing on. We have also several major initiatives in this area looking at reducing obesity and also reducing hypertension.
What are some of the challenges of addressing and closing the healthcare disparities gap?
First of all, the research is very different than a lot of comparative effectiveness research. It involved multi-level, multi-component, complex interventions, and you have to think a lot of what are the barriers and facilitators, and it’s quite complex to think through that in order to get an intervention that works.
In addition you want to be looking at of different subpopulations as well within the groups. For instance, if you’re looking at the Hispanic population, there are a few levels of differences and how you will potentially approach the barriers that they face.
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