Beginning in the late 1990s, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (formerly known as the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research—AHCPR) awarded contracts to institutions in the United States and Canada to serve as Evidence Based Practice Centers (EPCs). The EPCs were created to review relevant scientific literature on clinical, behavioral, organizational, and financial topics and to produce reports on their findings. The link to the homepage of this initiative is: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epc/
The RTI-UNC EPC report included a review of the effectiveness of community and population-based interventions to prevent tobacco use; efforts to increase consumer demand for and implementation of effective cessation interventions; the impact of smokeless tobacco marketing on smoking; use of those products; and population harm. Directions for future research were discussed.
The State of Minnesota EPC examined models of integrated care (e.g., mental health and substance abuse in primary care settings) used in the United States and assessed how the integration of mental health services into primary care settings had an impact on patient outcomes. In addition, this EPC examined barriers to program implementation, the use of health information technology (HIT), and how current reimbursement models influence integrated care programs.
The RTI-UNC EPC produced an important technical report, Criteria for Distinguishing Effectiveness from Efficacy Trials in Systematic Reviews. The stated objective of this review was “to propose and test a simple instrument based on seven criteria of study design to distinguish effectiveness (pragmatic) from efficacy (explanatory) trials while conducting systematic reviews”. This is an excellent technical report that is relevant to our work.