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Health Services Research & Development

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Evidence Synthesis Program

About the ESP Program

ESP logo The VA Evidence Synthesis Program (ESP), established in 2007, makes high quality evidence synthesis available to clinicians, managers and policymakers as they work to improve the health and healthcare of Veterans. ESP reports help:

  • Develop clinical policies informed by evidence;
  • Implement 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.

ESP is helping VA fulfill its vision of functioning as a continuously "learning healthcare system" to improve veteran health and health care. ESP achieves this by providing timely, targeted, thorough, unbiased and innovative syntheses of the medical literature for VHA to translate into evidence-based clinical practice and policy, and quality improvement and practice-based future research initiatives at the national level. The ESP offers a range of products from rapid review evidence briefs to full systematic reviews, tailored to the needs of decision-makers. In addition to being made available throughout VA and in the public domain, ESP reports are also published in top medical journals, so that clinicians worldwide may access them, and some evidence syntheses have informed the clinical guidelines of large professional organizations.

The program consists of four ESP Centers across the US, each with an active University affiliation, and a Coordinating Center, located in Portland, Oregon which oversees national program operations, program development and evaluation, and dissemination efforts. Center directors are recognized leaders in the field of systematic review methodology with close ties to the AHRQ Evidence-based Practice Centers and Cochrane Collaboration and are practicing clinicians in the VA. This unique expertise enables ESP to produce comprehensive reports that answer a wide range of research questions in a variety of clinical and health system settings with a special emphasis on the Veteran population and geared towards helping VA leadership with policy and clinical decision making.

Nominate a Topic for Research in the Program

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 Synthesis Program (ESP) is soliciting nominations from VHA leadership for review topics for FY 2021. Nominations will be accepted electronically using the Topic Submission Form.

Peer Review

ESP reports are externally peer-reviewed by clinical and policy experts. If you're interested in serving as a peer reviewer for the program, please register here.

ESP in the News


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

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NEW! Resource for evidence reviews on COVID-19

ESP has developed a catalog of COVID-19 evidence reviews conducted by evidence synthesis groups in the US and around the world to maximize the collective contributions to all those responding to the pandemic and avoid duplicating efforts. We aim for this to be a resource for both systematic reviewers and for those looking to inform practice or health systems policies.

NEW! Cannabis Provider Education Packet

This product was developed to help familiarize VHA clinicians with basic information about cannabis so that they might feel more comfortable engaging in discussions with their patients and answering questions.

NEW! Deprescribing Narrative

In a new initiative, ESP has created a narrative companion to the report entitled "Deprescribing for Older Veterans" which reviews the scientific literature around the effectiveness and harms of deprescribing interventions for older adults.

The report itself is awaiting clearance for public posting and is only available on the intranet, but until then, please review these great new stories and resources.

Recent Reports

  • Systematic Review - Robot-assisted Procedures in General Surgery: Cholecystectomy, Inguinal and Ventral Hernia Repairs (intranet only)
  • Systematic Review - Care Coordination Models and Tools: A Systematic Review and Key Informant Interviews (intranet only)

More...




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Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.