Health Services Research & Development

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Suggesting a Topic for the VA Evidence-based Synthesis Program

    ESP Reports in Progress

Nominating a topic for the VA Evidence-based Synthesis Program

Note: Nominations are accepted by downloading the Word version of the form. Once completed please email the form to

The ESP seeks nominations from VHA leadership for evidence synthesis topics to inform clinical practice and/or policy decisions at the health system level. The program selects 12-15 review topics per fiscal year. Due to resource limitations, review topics are prioritized based on the following criteria:

  • Topic nominated by system-level leadership: the proposed evidence review will be incorporated into health system decision-making and is likely to make a significant impact (eg, clinical guidelines, VHA Directive, formulary guidance, resource allocation, or research agenda development).
  • Significant issue for VHA: the topic represents important uncertainty for decision makers (eg, benefits/harms, variation in care, new emerging technology, or controversy) and will help resolve health care dilemmas.
  • Not duplicative: the topic is not already covered by an available or soon-to-be available high-quality systematic review by AHRQ or others.
  • Feasible: published literature (eg, RCTs, observational studies, systematic reviews) is available to address proposed research questions(s).
  • Engaged operational partner: nominator of the proposed review has been responsive and engaged during the topic development phase and has provided timely input regarding the proposed scope.

Nominations will also be evaluated on the operational partners' 1) plans for a rapid uptake of the evidence synthesis (into the development of clinical guidelines, VHA Directives, performance measures, educational programs, coverage policies, or other strategies for improving the quality of health care services), 2) approach for dissemination of findings, and 3) willingness to assess the impact of the proposed ESP review.

Nominations are accepted by downloading the Word version of the form. Once completed please email the form to

Once received, the ESP Coordinating Center (ESP CC) will contact you to inform you of the status of your request. If your nomination is selected as a potential ESP project, we will work with you to determine the feasibility of a review on your proposed topic, refine the scope of the proposed review, craft a set of preliminary key questions, and develop a topic nomination brief to be reviewed by HSR&D/QUERI leadership in June 2017. If selected, your nomination will be assigned to one of our ESP Centers as a FY 2018 project. Reports generally take nine months to complete. If your need is more urgent, please state that in the nomination form. We have limited capacity for rapid review evidence briefs in FY 2017 and may accommodate this once we learn more about your needs.

As an operational partner of an assigned review, you will be involved in the ESP review process in the following way:

  • Recommend Technical Expert Panel (TEP) participants, who will
    • provide content expertise through 1 to 3 hour-long conference calls
    • guide topic development; refine the key questions; assure VA relevance
    • be invited to review the draft report
  • Approve final project scope and timeframe for completion
  • Review draft report
    • ESP reports are reviewed by at least 3 external reviewers, comprised of authors identified in the literature or other known experts in the field and/or TEP members, in addition to the operational partner(s).
    • Comments received on the draft report are considered by the ESP Center in preparation of the final report. Dispositions of the de-identified reviewer comments are documented and included in an appendix to the final report. Reviewers do not participate in writing or editing the final report, and the synthesis of the scientific literature presented in the final report may not represent the views of individual reviewers or operational partners.
  • Support dissemination activities
    • Management eBrief: an electronic publication developed by ESP to provide VHA management with a concise summary of findings to support policy decision-making. Operational partner(s) may provide messaging to be included in the brief as to the implications the report may have for VHA policy or practice and dissemination targets.
    • Presentation of findings: the ESP Center can present the evidence synthesis at a venue appropriate to the topic and decision making needs, (eg, national HSR&D webinar/cyber seminars,; leadership briefings, program/committee meetings, or conferences). Operational partner(s) are invited to participate as discussants, addressing such issues as implementation and policy implications.