The HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has announced plans for spending its $300 million share of the $1.1 billion Congress appropriated for comparative effectiveness research (CER) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA or Recovery Act for short). AHRQ plans to solicit grant applications this fall and award grants and contracts by spring 2010. The $300 million must be encumbered by end of FFY 2010.

AHRQ Spending Plan for Comparative Effectiveness Research in 2010:

New Grants ($198.5 million):

$148 million for evidence generation, including prospective studies and patient registries:

  • $100 million for the Clinical and Health Outcomes Initiative in Comparative Effectiveness (CHOICE), a new national effort to establish a series of prospective pragmatic clinical comparative effectiveness studies that measure the benefits treatments produce in routine clinical practice. This will include novel study designs focusing on real-world and under-represented populations (children, elderly, racial and ethnic minorities, and other understudied populations).
  • $48 million for the establishment or enhancement of national patient registries that can be used for researching the longitudinal effects of different interventions and collecting data on under-represented populations.

$29.5 million to support innovative translation and dissemination grants.

$20 million to support training and career development.

$1 million for other grants.

New Contracts ($19.5 million):

$9.5 million to establish an infrastructure to identify new issues for comparative effectiveness research.

$10 million to establish a citizen’s forum to engage stakeholders and to expand and standardize public involvement in the federal comparative effectiveness research program.

Expand Existing Contracts ($79 million):

$50 million for evidence synthesis.

$24 million for evidence generation.

$5 million for translation and dissemination.

Administration ($3 million):

$3 million for salary and benefits for new AHRQ staff to administer the CER program.

Health Conditions Selected for Comparative Effectiveness Research:

For the time being, AHRQ is going to use the same 14 priority conditions designated earlier by the HHS Secretary under the Medicare Modernization Act. The priority conditions were selected because of their high interest for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP):

  1. Arthritis and non-traumatic joint disorders
  2. Cancer
  3. Cardiovascular disease, including stroke and hypertension
  4. Dementia and other brain and nerve conditions, including Alzheimer’s Disease
  5. Depression and other mental health disorders
  6. Developmental delays, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism
  7. Diabetes mellitus
  8. Functional limitations and disability
  9. Infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS
  10. Obesity
  11. Digestive system conditions (peptic ulcer disease and dyspepsia)
  12. Pregnancy including preterm birth
  13. Pulmonary disease and asthma
  14. Alcohol and drug abuse

For more information on AHRQ’s CER program, visit