Health Services Research & Development

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Nominating a topic for the VA Evidence-based Synthesis Program

    ESP Reports in Progress

Would an independent and rigorous review of the scientific literature help your office plan or implement a program, develop a guideline or directive, make a health policy decision, or inform future research needs? The Evidence-based Synthesis Program (ESP) is soliciting nominations from VHA leadership for review topics for FY 2018. The ESP offers a range of products from rapid review evidence briefs to full systematic reviews, tailored to the needs of decision-makers. Because of high demand, 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 addressing high-priority national goals are given preference and will 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 PDF 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 prioritized for development, 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 proposal to be approved for funding by HSR&D/QUERI leadership. If approved, your nomination may be assigned to one of our ESP Centers for the next assignment cycle.

Nomination Deadline

Notification of Selection

Project Start Date

FY 2018


August 15, 2017

Oct 1, 2017

October 1, 2017

February 15, 2018

March 1, 2018

February 1, 2018

May 15, 2018

June 1, 2018

FY 2019

May 1, 2018

October 15, 2018

November 1, 2018

October 1, 2018

February 15, 2019

March 1, 2019

February 1, 2019

May 15, 2019

June 1, 2019

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 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 refinement; give input on key questions; assure VA relevance; and
    • be invited to review the draft report.
  • Approve final project scope and timeframe for completion
    • Operational partners will be consulted as appropriate throughout review process.
  • Provide feedback on draft report
    • ESP reports are reviewed by at least 3 external peer 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).
    • All comments received on the draft report are considered by the ESP Center in preparation of the final report. De-identified reviewer comments and their disposition will be included as an appendix in the report.
    • Operational partners or TEP members do not participate in writing or editing the ESP report. The synthesis of the scientific literature presented in the final document may not necessarily represent the views of operational partners and peer reviewers.
  • Provide consultation on strategies for dissemination of the report to field and relevant groups.
    • Final reports are posted on the ESP website and indexed in PubMed after an embargo period to allow for journal submission. However, the ESP report will be available to VHA affiliates on the intranet during this time.
    • The ESP Center will be available to present the findings 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). For topics where a national HSR&D cyberseminar would be beneficial, operational partner(s) are invited to participate as discussants, addressing such issues as implementation and policy implications.
    • Support dissemination of a 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 identify dissemination targets.
    • While the operational partner does not participate in the writing or editing of the ESP report, they may be invited by the review team to participate in a subsequent manuscript on the topic.
  • Complete program follow-up questionnaire
    • Upon completion of the review, operational partners are surveyed on initial decision-making needs, resulting actions of the report's findings, implementation timeframe, and overall perception of report content to support continuous quality improvement and evaluate the impact of our evidence synthesis reports.