Health Services Research & Development

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Evidence-based Synthesis Program

About the ESP Program

ESP logo The VA Evidence-based Synthesis Program (ESP) was established to provide timely and accurate syntheses of targeted healthcare topics of particular importance to clinicians, managers and policymakers, as they work to improve the health and healthcare of Veterans. HSR&D provides funding for four ESP Centers and each Center has an active University affiliation. The Centers include: Durham, Minneapolis, Portland, and West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Centers. The Center directors are national and international leaders in the field of evidence synthesis with close links to the AHRQ Evidence-based Practice Centers.

The ESP Centers generate evidence syntheses on important clinical practice topics, and these reports help:

  • Develop clinical policies informed by evidence,
  • The implementation of effective services to improve patient outcomes and to support VA clinical practice guidelines and performance measures, and
  • Set the direction for future research to address gaps in clinical knowledge.

The ESP disseminates these reports throughout VA and some evidence syntheses have informed the clinical guidelines of large professional organizations.

ESP Coordinating Center

In 2009, an ESP Coordinating Center was created to expand the capacity of HSR&D Central Office and the four ESP sites by developing and maintaining program processes. In addition, the Center established a Steering Committee comprised of HSR&D field-based investigators, VA Patient Care Services, Office of Quality and Performance, and VISN Clinical Management Officers. The Steering Committee provides program oversight and guides strategic planning, coordinates dissemination activities, and develops collaborations with VA leadership to identify new ESP topics of importance to Veterans and the VA healthcare system.

The Coordinating Center is located in Portland, OR and is directed by Mark Helfand, MD.

ESP Governance Structure (236 KB, PDF)

Organizational Structure of the Evidence-based Synthesis Program

Nominate a Topic for Research in the Program

Nominations will be accepted electronically using the online Topic Submission Form. Review topics selected by the Steering Committee will be assigned to an ESP Center to work with the nominator to refine the key questions and determine the scope and timeline of the desired product.

Peer Review

ESP reports are peer-reviewed by clinical and policy experts. If you're interested in serving as a peer reviewer for the program please contact Nicole Floyd at

Click for list of published reports Click for topic nomination form Click for list of reports in progress

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Topic Nomination

Nominations are accepted by downloading the PDF version of the form. Once completed please email the form to Nominations received by January 15, 2016 will be given first priority.

Recent Reports

  • Benefits and Harms of the Mediterranean Diet Compared to Other Diets (intranet only)
  • Interventions to Improve Pharmacological Adherence among Adults with Psychotic Spectrum Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (intranet only)


See Reports in Progress

ESP in the News