Special Emphasis Notice (SEN): AHRQ Announces Areas of Interest for Research on Healthcare-Associated Infections

Notice Number: NOT-HS-11-002

Key Dates
Release Date: November 3, 2010

Issued by
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)



The mission of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare for all Americans.  To further this mission, AHRQ is interested in funding health services research grants that focus on the prevention and reduction of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

HAIs are infections that patients acquire during the course of receiving treatment for other conditions within a healthcare setting.  Examples of diseases or organisms, including antibiotic-resistant organisms, that can be transmitted and/or acquired in healthcare settings, and are therefore potential sources of HAIs, are summarized at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/id.html  HAIs are associated with a variety of causes, including, but not limited to, the use of medical devices, complications following a surgical procedure, transmission between patients and healthcare workers, or antibiotic use.  HAIs are among the leading causes of preventable death in the United States, accounting for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths in 2002.  In addition to the substantial human suffering caused by HAIs, it is estimated that HAIs result in $28 to $33 billion in excess healthcare costs each year.

It is for these reasons that the prevention of HAIs is a top priority for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The Department has published the National Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections, which is available at: http://www.dhhs.gov/ophs/initiatives/hai/index.html.  The Plan is being updated and the update will be available in early 2011.  AHRQ collaborates with other HHS Agencies to prevent and reduce HAIs and has funded initiatives in all of the settings identified in the Plan: Acute care hospitals (Tier 1); ambulatory settings, such as ambulatory surgical centers, outpatient care clinics and offices, and hemodialysis centers/end-stage renal disease facilities (Tier 2); and long-term care settings, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities.  AHRQ-funded HAI projects are summarized at: http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/haiflyer.htm; http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/haify09.htm (FY 2009); and http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/haify10.htm (FY 2010). 

Research Areas of Interest

In FY 2011, AHRQ intends to build on the projects funded in 2009 and 2010 by supporting research and demonstration projects related to ways to prevent and more effectively manage HAIs and promote the wide-scale adoption of evidence-based approaches, in all settings (Tier 1, Tier 2, and long-term care) as scientifically warranted.  AHRQ will fund grants, using R01, R18, and R03 mechanisms, in the following areas of research interest:

1) Determination of the clinical efficacy, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of preventive interventions.
2) Development, demonstration, and implementation of strategies for prevention and management of HAIs.
3) Characterization and assessment of relevant epidemiological aspects of HAIs, such as patient risk factors, clinical presentation, and sources of antibiotic-resistant organisms involved in the development of HAIs. 

A research focus that will receive additional emphasis in FY 2011 is HAIs in ambulatory care.  Additionally, AHRQ is interested in developing, evaluating, and demonstrating linkages between the various settings of care to improve the prevention, management, and tracking of HAIs.

Further Guidance

Use of funding mechanisms: AHRQ will use its current R01, R18, and R03 mechanisms for applications that address HAI research and demonstration. R01 grants (Research Project Grants) for HAI research will generally be directed to research in areas 1 and 3 above. R18 grants (Research Demonstration Projects) for HAI research will generally be directed to research in area 2 above. R03 grants (Small Research Grants) for HAI research will generally be directed to smaller projects such as pilot studies.

Please refer to AHRQ’s Funding Opportunities page for information about the grant application process (see http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/).  Additional specific information on preparation of a grant application, including requirements such as budget and project periods, application receipt dates, e-grants submission processes, and eligibility to apply for these grants, can be found within each Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) at:

R01: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-09-070.html
R18: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-09-071.html;
R03: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-10-168.html

Application Submission:  With this notice, AHRQ is providing information about one of the highest research priorities in the patient safety research portfolio for investigator-initiated applications in FY 2011.  AHRQ will continue to provide regular updates of research priorities as research budget information becomes available. Applications focused on areas identified in this SEN should be submitted on regular R01, R18, and R03 grant application receipt dates. We encourage applicants to indicate in their applications that they are responding to this notice by including the Special Emphasis Notice title and number. We also encourage applicants to include a cover letter in their application package stating their interest in this SEN. Applications will be reviewed by AHRQ’s standing study sections. 


The AHRQ designated contacts for this SEN are:

James Cleeman, M.D.
Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety
Phone: 301-427-1330
E-mail: james.cleeman@ahrq.hhs.gov

Kendall Hall, M.D.
Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety
Phone: 302-427-1333
E-mail: kendall.hall@ahrq.hhs.gov

Weekly TOC for this Announcement
NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices

Office of Extramural Research (OER) - Home Page Office of Extramural
Research (OER)
  National Institutes of Health (NIH) - Home Page National Institutes of Health (NIH)
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
  Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - Home Page Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS)
  USA.gov - Government Made Easy

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