The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has announced a massive investment of $80.5M to fund four patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies. This initiative is part of PCORI’s efforts to address the critical health care and social factors contributing to maternal health inequities in the United States.

The studies, part of a larger suite of 30 CER studies recently approved for PCORI funding, stand out for their innovative approach. The Partner funding opportunity, through which these grants are awarded, emphasizes collaboration between research institutions and community organizations. This partnership aims to explore novel approaches in health equity research, focusing on populations disproportionately affected by adverse maternal health outcomes, such as Black people, Hispanic and Latin American individuals, rural residents, and those with lower incomes.

Each of the four studies is distinct in its collaborative leadership structure, co-led by principal investigators from both research institutions and community organizations. The studies go beyond typical clinical trials by addressing complex health challenges impacting maternal health across different communities. They will involve evaluating multicomponent interventions that tackle both health care and social determinants of health. These interventions will undergo a planning phase of up to one year and a research phase of up to five years.

Nakela L. Cook, M.D., MPH, the Executive Director of PCORI, highlighted the urgency and importance of these studies. “The usual approaches to health research and health care have not sufficiently addressed the alarming and worsening national crisis of maternal death and severe illness,” said Dr. Cook. She emphasized the potential of these patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research studies to provide solutions to complex maternal health care challenges.

The studies will be conducted across various regions of the U.S., including rural and urban areas, and will address multiple aspects of maternal health. These include maintaining a healthy maternal weight, reducing hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, and tackling mood and anxiety disorders during the perinatal period. The approaches being compared range from patient-selected social needs supports to home-based blood pressure monitoring and peer support programs for mental health.

Harv Feldman, M.D., MSCE, PCORI’s Deputy Executive Director for Patient-Centered Research Programs, remarked on the significance of these awards. “These funding awards mark an important advancement of PCORI’s longstanding leadership in engaging patients and those who care for them in all aspects of comparative clinical effectiveness research,” said Dr. Feldman. He expressed optimism about the potential impact of the studies’ findings on maternal health, especially among populations facing disproportionate adverse outcomes.

With these latest awards, PCORI’s total investment in patient-centered CER and related projects surpasses $4.5 billion. The details of these studies, along with other funded projects, can be found on PCORI’s website.

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