Department of Health and Human Services
Part 1. Overview Information -- 6 2 2016
Participating Organization(s)

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

 NOTE:  The policies, guidelines, terms, and conditions stated in this announcement may differ from those used by the NIH.  Where this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) provides specific written guidance that may differ from the general guidance provided in the grant application form, please follow the instructions given in this FOA. Also note that AHRQ has different page limits than NIH for the application Research Strategy, which can be found within each individual FOA.

Components of Participating Organizations

Center for Evidence and Practice Improvement

Funding Opportunity Title

Developing Measures of Shared Decision Making (R01)

Activity Code

R01 Research Project Grant

Announcement Type

New

Related Notices

None

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

PA-16-424

Companion Funding Opportunity

None

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s)

 93.226    

Funding Opportunity Purpose

Shared decision making (SDM) is a collaborative process in which patients and members of their clinical team work together to make health care decisions informed by scientific evidence as well as patients’ own values and preferences.  SDM has proven difficult to measure, and the literature points to significant gaps and limitations in the measurement of SDM.  The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to invite applications to develop, test, and evaluate measures of SDM that can be used to conduct research in clinical settings.

Key Dates
Posted Date

September 8, 2016

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

January 5, 2017

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

Not Applicable

Application Due Date(s)

Standard dates apply, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

AIDS Application Due Date(s)

 Not applicable.

Scientific Merit Review

 Generally, four months after receipt date.  

Advisory Council Review

 Not applicable.

Earliest Start Date

Generally, four months after peer review date.

Expiration Date

 February 5, 2022

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable.

Required Application Instructions

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the Research Instructions for the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts). Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the FOA) is required and strictly enforced. Applicants must read and follow all application instructions in the Application Guide as well as any program-specific instructions noted in Section IV. When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions. Applications that do not comply with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.



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Table of Contents

Part 1. Overview Information
Part 2. Full Text of the Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
Section II. Award Information
Section III. Eligibility Information
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
Section V. Application Review Information
Section VI. Award Administration Information
Section VII. Agency Contacts
Section VIII. Other Information


Part 2. Full Text of Announcement
Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
Background

Shared decision making (SDM) is a collaborative process in which patients and members of their clinical team work together to make health care decisions informed by scientific evidence as well as patients’ own values and preferences.  SDM recognizes that patients and clinicians both bring distinct and important expertise to the decision making process.  Depending on the situation, SDM can take place in different settings and during a single clinical encounter or across multiple interactions over time.  Patient-centered tools and resources, sometimes referred to as decision aids, can be used to help patients and clinicians prepare for and engage in decision making.

SDM can help integrate into care the findings from patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) -- research that evaluates and compares the impact of two or more preventive, diagnostic, treatment, or healthcare delivery approaches on health outcomes. Integrating findings from PCOR into SDM helps patients and clinicians become more informed about the medical condition requiring action as well as the benefits and harms of each treatment option.  As patients become more knowledgeable, they can be better equipped to have productive discussions with clinicians and to make informed, evidence-based health care decisions that are aligned with their personal values and preferences.

Interest in and support for SDM has grown steadily over the last several decades and has increased exponentially in recent years. At the policy level, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act included provisions to increase SDM.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has included requirements related to SDM as part of some recent coverage with evidence development decisions.  Most patients prefer to be actively involved in health care decision making, and evidence suggests that patient-reported SDM is positively associated with affective and cognitive outcomes such as improved patient satisfaction and reduced decisional conflict.  SDM has the potential to improve behavioral and physical health outcomes, impact utilization rates, lower costs, and reduce unwarranted variations in care.   However, the body of evidence, although extensive, has not found consistently favorable impact of SDM on these outcomes.  Still, SDM has the potential to promote patient-centered care and thus improve health care quality.  Many providers, practices, and health care systems have implemented interventions to promote and facilitate SDM. 

Gaps in SDM Measurement

As the number of initiatives and interventions to adopt SDM has increased, there has also been an increased need to measure the impact of SDM on outcomes of interest to examine whether and to what extent these interventions are accomplishing their goals.  To measure the impact of SDM on outcomes, a first step is to improve our ability to document that SDM has taken place.  That is, we need to know whether initiatives that have the goal of establishing an SDM process actually accomplish this goal.

Unfortunately, however, SDM has proven difficult to measure. Indeed, the literature points to several significant gaps and limitations in the measurement of SDM.  First, of the many measures that have been developed, most focus on antecedents to SDM (patient preferences, decision making confidence, etc.) or decision outcomes (satisfaction, conflict, regret, etc.).  Few measures focus on the process of SDM. 

Second, researchers to date have had difficulty operationally defining SDM.  It is unclear what leads patients and providers to believe a decision was shared or how to measure that construct.  Survey items that directly ask patients and clinicians about “decisions” may be problematic, since patients may be unfamiliar with the term in this context, may interpret the term differently than clinicians or than intended in the survey, or may not recognize that a decision has taken place. Previous studies have shown discrepancies between how patients, clinicians, and neutral observers report whether a decision took place and to what extent it was shared.  Analyses of encounter recordings share similar challenges.  These discrepancies point to differences in how patients and clinicians or observers conceptualize SDM as well as limitations in how SDM is measured. 

Third, and in addition to these conceptual concerns, many previously developed SDM measures have not been well tested or demonstrated to be valid, reliable, or responsive to interventions designed to promote SDM.  Some measures were developed for single studies or specific interventions and did not use representative samples.  Therefore, the measures may not be applicable beyond very specific populations, clinical settings, or disease contexts.  While specific or tailored measures can be appropriate, there are concerns that the field of SDM measurement has become somewhat fragmented. 

Fourth, the usability of measures and feasibility of implementation in clinical settings has not been frequently or adequately addressed.  Given the properties of some SDM measures (e.g., survey length, the need for research personnel to administer or assess surveys, the need to directly observe clinical encounters or to record them for assessment), it is not clear whether many existing measures could easily be used in clinical settings for performance measurement, quality improvement, or research.

Purpose/Research Objectives

AHRQ expects to fund the development of valid and reliable measures that accurately assess the process of SDM and that can be used to conduct research on SDM in clinical settings.  Accordingly, the purpose of this FOA is to identify and fund projects to develop, test, and evaluate measures of SDM that can be used to conduct research in clinical settings.  The expected outputs include: 1) valid and reliable measures of SDM, along with instructions required for implementing the measures; and 2) documentation regarding the development, testing, and evaluation of the measures.

The objectives of this FOA are to:

Develop new SDM measures – or further develop existing SDM measures – that can be used in clinical settings to determine whether SDM occurred and/or the extent to which the process of SDM occurred;

Demonstrate the validity, reliability, feasibility, discriminating ability, and responsiveness to change of the developed SDM measures by testing the measures in clinical settings in which SDM is being implemented;

Evaluate the usability, fidelity, and feasibility of using the SDM measures as intended as well as the opportunities and limitations of the measures that are developed; and

Identify the factors that promote or hinder the adoption of SDM measures to conduct research in clinical settings.

AHRQ expects that SDM measures developed as the result of projects funded under this FOA will meet the following criteria:

  • be informed by a conceptual model or framework;
  • capture the process aspects of SDM;
  • have high validity, reliability, feasibility, discriminating ability, and responsiveness to change;
  • be applicable to different clinical settings, diverse populations, disease contexts, and types of decisions (e.g., discrete one-time decisions, complex decisions that result in new decisions);
  • be generalizable across different types of SDM interventions;
  • can be implemented in routine clinical settings; and
  • advance the field of SDM measurement by addressing measurement gaps, including, but not limited to, those described in this FOA.

The measures should not be designed to only assess SDM in the context of any one specific decision.  Instead, the measure should capture SDM across the different types of clinical decisions that may be made.  Additionally, the measures should not be designed to assess the efficacy or impact of a specific decision aid.  Although the measures may be used to assess SDM when a decision aid is used, the measures should be designed to capture SDM regardless of whether a decision aid is used.

Special Application Requirements

Applications submitted must include the following research elements:

Briefly describe the SDM model or framework that will inform the research project, and provide a rationale for the selected model/framework.  The model/framework should not simply address antecedents to SDM (e.g., patient role preferences, decision making confidence) or cognitive and affective SDM outcomes (e.g., satisfaction, regret), although those elements may be incorporated into the framework.  Instead, the model/framework should elucidate the process of SDM. 

Describe and justify how SDM will be operationalized in the study given the selected model/framework. 

Fully describe and justify a plan to develop SDM measures or modify existing measures.  (Applicants should demonstrate they have - or have a plan to obtain - permission to modify existing measures they did not create.)  SDM may be measured quantitatively or qualitatively, or a mixed methods approach may be used. Provide details about the proposed measures, including how often and when they would be used (e.g., immediately before and after a clinical encounter, during an encounter, after multiple interactions have occurred), and by whom (e.g., patients, clinicians, and/or neutral observers).  Indicate for which clinical contexts they would be not be appropriate, or would be particularly appropriate. Indicate whether and how input from patients, clinicians, and/or potential end-users will be solicited and incorporated during measure development.

Describe and justify the methods for testing the validity, reliability, and responsiveness to change of the measures.  Various types of validity (criterion-related validity, construct validity, etc.) and reliability (e.g., inter-rater reliability) should be tested, as relevant to the measures developed. Define minimum levels of reliability and validity for the measure to be usable, and explain what actions will be taken if the measures do not meet these thresholds in initial testing. 

Describe a plan for evaluating the feasibility of using the measure with adequate fidelity in clinical settings.  Indicate the clinical setting(s) where the evaluation will take place, the patient population, and the clinician type.  Indicate how you will document feasibility (e.g., by measuring respondent burden, ease of implementation within clinical workflow, etc.) and lessons learned, including the factors that promoted or hindered the implementation and use of the measures.  Also, describe plans for determining the applicability of the SDM measures to other clinical contexts (e.g., different settings, populations, conditions, clinician types).

Describe plans for assessing the project's success in meeting the objectives of this FOA. Describe how the findings and other information learned will inform and advance the field of SDM measurement, including by addressing previous gaps in measurement.  Consider proposing a plan to elicit stakeholder input and design strategies for dissemination and implementation of the measure and/or to engage other researchers to determine what it would take for them to adopt the measure if its properties prove favorable.  

See Section VIII. Other Information for award authorities and regulations.

Section II. Award Information
Funding Instrument

Grant: A support mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity.

Application Types Allowed

New

The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

The number of awards is contingent upon AHRQ appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications. Future year amounts will depend on annual appropriations.

Award Budget

The total costs (direct and indirect) for a project awarded under this FOA will not exceed $500,000 per year and $1,500,000 for the entire project period. 

Award Project Period

 The project period may not exceed three years.    

These projects are authorized by 42 U.S.C. 299a, which provides that AHRQ shall conduct and support research, support demonstration projects, and disseminate information on health care and on systems for the delivery of such care, including activities with respect to the quality, effectiveness, efficiency, appropriateness, and value of health care services.

All applications submitted and AHRQ grants made in response to this FOA are subject to 45 CFR Part 75 (Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for HHS Awards; http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?node=pt45.1.75) , the HHS Grants Policy Statement (see http://www.ahrq.gov/funding/policies/hhspolicy/index.html), and the terms and conditions set forth in the Notice of Award.

Section III. Eligibility Information
1. Eligible Applicants
Eligible Organizations

You may submit an application(s) if your institution/organization is a (an):

  • Public or non-profit private institution, such as a university, college, or a faith-based or community-based organization;
  • Unit of local or State government;
  • Eligible agency of the Federal government.
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Government (Federally recognized)
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Government (Other than Federally recognized);
  • Indian/Native American Tribally Designated Organization.

The following types of Higher Education Institutions are always encouraged to apply for AHRQ support as Public or Non-Profit Private Institutions of Higher Education:

  • Hispanic-serving Institutions
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
  • Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs)
  • Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions
  • Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs)

AHRQ’s authorizing legislation does not allow for-profit organizations to be eligible to lead applications under this research mechanism.  For-profit organizations may participate in projects as members of consortia or as subcontractors only.  Because the purpose of this program is to improve healthcare in the United States, foreign institutions may participate in projects as members of consortia or as subcontractors only.  Applications submitted by for-profit organizations or foreign institutions will not be reviewed.  Organizations described in section 501(c) 4 of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying are not eligible.

HHS grants policy requires that the grant recipient perform a substantive role in the conduct of the planned project or program activity and not merely serve as a conduit of funds to another party or parties. If consortium/contractual activities represent a significant portion of the overall project, the applicant must justify why the applicant organization, rather than the party(s) performing this portion of the overall project, should be the grantee and what substantive role the applicant organization will play. Justification can be provided in the Specific Aims or Research Strategy section of the PHS398 Research Plan Component sections of the SF424 (R&R) application.  There is no budget allocation guideline for determining substantial involvement; determination of substantial involvement is based on a review of the primary project activities for which grant support is provided and the organization(s) that will be performing those activities.

Foreign Institutions

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are not eligible to apply.
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are not eligible to apply.

Required Registrations

Applicant Organizations

Applicant organizations must complete and maintain the following registrations as described in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide to be eligible to apply for or receive an award. All registrations must be completed prior to the application being submitted. Registration can take 6 weeks or more, so applicants should begin the registration process as soon as possible. The NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications states that failure to complete registrations in advance of a due date is not a valid reason for a late submission.

  • Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) - All registrations require that applicants be issued a DUNS number. After obtaining a DUNS number, applicants can begin both SAM and eRA Commons registrations. The same DUNS number must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
  • System for Award Management (SAM) (formerly CCR) – Applicants must complete and maintain an active registration, which requires renewal at least annually. The renewal process may require as much time as the initial registration. SAM registration includes the assignment of a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code for domestic organizations which have not already been assigned a CAGE Code.
  • NATO Commercial and Government Entity (NCAGE) Code – Foreign organizations must obtain an NCAGE code (in lieu of a CAGE code) in order to register in SAM. 
  • eRA Commons - Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the eRA Commons registration. Organizations can register with the eRA Commons as they are working through their SAM or Grants.gov registration. eRA Commons requires organizations to identify at least one Signing Official (SO) and at least one Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) account in order to submit an application.
  • Grants.gov – Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the Grants.gov registration.

Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD(s)/PI(s))

The PD/PI must have an eRA Commons account.  The PD/PI should work with his/her organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate their existing account with the applicant organization in eRA Commons. If the PD/PI is also the organizational Signing Official, he/she must have two distinct eRA Commons accounts, one for each role. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to 2 weeks.

Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for AHRQ support.

Only one PD/PI may be designated on the application.

2. Cost Sharing

This FOA does not require cost sharing.

While there is no cost sharing requirement included in this FOA, AHRQ welcomes applicant institutions, including any collaborating institutions, to devote resources to this effort.  An indication of institutional support from the applicant and its collaborators indicates a greater potential of success and sustainability of the project.  Examples of institutional support would include: donated equipment and space, institutional funded staff time and effort, or other resource investments.  Applicant institutions should indicate institutional support by outlining the specific contributions to the project and providing assurances that their organization and any collaborators are committed to providing these funds and resources to the project. This information can be included at the end of the budget justification section of the application, but institutional support dollars are not to be shown/included in the detailed budget request. 

3. Additional Information on Eligibility
Number of Applications

Applicant organizations may submit more than one application, provided that each application is scientifically distinct.

AHRQ will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time.  This means that AHRQ will not accept:

  • A new (A0) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of an overlapping new (A0) or resubmission (A1) application.
  • A resubmission (A1) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of the previous new (A0) application.
  • An application that has substantial overlap with another application pending appeal of initial peer review (see NOT-OD-11-101).
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
1. Requesting an Application Package

Buttons to access the online ASSIST system or to download application forms are available in Part 1 of this FOA. See your administrative office for instructions if you plan to use an institutional system-to-system solution.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the Research Instructions for the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, including Supplemental Grant Application Instructions except where instructed in this funding opportunity announcement to do otherwise. Conformance to the requirements in the Application Guide is required and strictly enforced. Applications that are out of compliance with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

For information on Application Submission and Receipt, visit Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.

Letter of Intent

Not applicable

Page Limitations

All page limitations described in the SF424 Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits must be followed.

Instructions for Application Submission

The following section supplements the instructions found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and should be used for preparing an application to this FOA.

SF424(R&R) Cover

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Project/Performance Site Locations

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Other Project Information

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed. 

R&R or Modular Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed, with the following additional instructions:

Budget Component:  Special Instructions for AHRQ applications

AHRQ is not using the Modular Grant Application and Award Process.  Applicants for funding from AHRQ are to ignore application instructions concerning the Modular Grant Application and Award Process, and prepare applications using instructions for the Research and Related Budget Components of the SF 424 (R&R).  Applications submitted in the Modular format will not be reviewed.

R&R Subaward Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

PHS 398 Research Plan

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide that are not otherwise specified within this Funding Opportunity Announcement must be followed, with the following additional instructions:

Appendix:  Do not use the Appendix to circumvent page limits. Follow all instructions for the Appendix as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

PHS Inclusion Enrollment Report

When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing PHS Inclusion Enrollment Report as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

PHS Assignment Request Form

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed. 

3. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM)

See Part 1. Section III.1 for information regarding the requirement for obtaining a unique entity identifier and for completing and maintaining active registrations in System for Award Management (SAM), NATO Commercial and Government Entity (NCAGE) Code (if applicable), eRA Commons, and Grants.gov

4. Submission Dates and Times

Part I. Overview Information contains information about Key Dates and times. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications before the due date to ensure they have time to make any application corrections that might be necessary for successful submission. When a submission date falls on a weekend or Federal holiday, the application deadline is automatically extended to the next business day.

Organizations must submit applications to Grants.gov (the online portal to find and apply for grants across all Federal agencies). Applicants must then complete the submission process by tracking the status of the application in the eRA Commons, NIH’s electronic system for grants administration. NIH and Grants.gov systems check the application against many of the application instructions upon submission. Errors must be corrected and a changed/corrected application must be submitted to Grants.gov on or before the application due date and time.  If a Changed/Corrected application is submitted after the deadline, the application will be considered late. Applications that miss the due date and time are subjected to the NIH Policy on Late Application Submission.

Applicants are responsible for viewing their application before the due date in the eRA Commons to ensure accurate and successful submission.

Information on the submission process and a definition of on-time submission are provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

5. Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372)

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

6. Funding Restrictions

For efficient grant administration, AHRQ grant administration procedures will be used and conducted in accordance with the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement. The Grants Policy Statement can be found at http://www.ahrq.gov/funding/grants/policies/hhspolicy.html.

Pre-award costs are allowable. A grantee may, at its own risk and without AHRQ prior approval, incur obligations and expenditures to cover costs up to 90 days before the beginning date of the initial budget period of a new award if such costs are necessary to conduct the project and would be allowable under the grant, if awarded, without AHRQ prior approval. If specific expenditures would otherwise require prior approval, the grantee must obtain AHRQ approval before incurring the cost. AHRQ prior approval is required for any costs to be incurred more than 90 days before the beginning date of the initial budget period of a new award.

The incurrence of pre-award costs in anticipation of a competing or non-competing award imposes no obligation on AHRQ either to make the award or to increase the amount of the approved budget if an award is made for less than the amount anticipated and is inadequate to cover the pre-award costs incurred. AHRQ expects the grantee to be fully aware that pre-award costs result in borrowing against future support and that such borrowing must not impair the grantee's ability to accomplish the project objectives in the approved time frame or in any way adversely affect the conduct of the project.

7. Other Submission Requirements and Information

Applications must be submitted electronically following the instructions described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.  Paper applications will not be accepted.

Applicants must complete all required registrations before the application due date. Section III. Eligibility Information contains information about registration.

For assistance with your electronic application or for more information on the electronic submission process, visit Applying Electronically. If you encounter a system issue beyond your control that threatens your ability to complete the submission process on-time, you must follow the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues. For assistance with application submission, contact the Application Submission Contacts in Section VII.

Important reminders:

The PD/PI must include his/her eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF424(R&R) Application Package. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to AHRQ. See Section III of this FOA for information on registration requirements.

The applicant organization must ensure that the DUNS number it provides on the application is the same number used in the organization’s profile in the eRA Commons and for the System for Award Management. Additional information may be found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

See more tips for avoiding common errors.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness and compliance with application instructions by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH and for responsiveness by AHRQ.  Applications that are incomplete or non-compliant will not be reviewed.

In order to expedite the review, applicants are requested to notify the AHRQ Referral Office by email Gerald.Calderone@ahrq.hhs.gov when the application has been submitted.  Please include the FOA number and title, PD/PI name, and title of the application.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of human subjects is not required prior to peer review of an application (see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-HS-00-003.html). However, initiation of IRB review, if necessary or applicable, is strongly encouraged to assure timely commencement of research.

Although there is no immediate acknowledgement of the receipt of an application, applicants are generally notified of the review and funding assignment within eight (8) weeks.

Priority Populations

AHRQ supports research, evaluations, and demonstration projects concerning the delivery of health care in inner-city and rural areas (including frontier areas), and health care for priority populations.  Priority populations include low income groups; minority groups; women; children; the elderly; and individuals with special health care needs, including individuals with disabilities and individuals who need chronic care or end-of-life health care.  42 USC 299(c).  Women and members of minority groups are included in all AHRQ-supported research projects involving human subjects, unless a clear and compelling rationale and justification is provided that inclusion is inappropriate, e.g. because of the lack of connection between the study and the health of women or particular minorities.  Investigators should review the document entitled, “AHRQ Policy on the Inclusion of Priority Populations,” which is available https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-HS-03-010.html.  Applicants under this FOA should consider and discuss including priority populations in the research design as specified in this Notice.

Plan for Sharing Research Data

The precise content of the data-sharing plan will vary, depending on the data being collected and how the investigator is planning to share the data. Applicants who are planning to share data may wish to describe briefly the expected schedule for data sharing; the format of the final dataset; the documentation to be provided; whether or not any analytic tools also will be provided; whether or not a data-sharing agreement will be required and, if so, a brief description of such an agreement (including the criteria for deciding who can receive the data and whether or not any conditions will be placed on their use); and the mode of data sharing (e.g., under its own auspices by mailing a disk or posting data on its institutional or personal website or through a data archive or enclave). Investigators choosing to share under their own auspices may wish to enter into a data-sharing agreement. References to data sharing may also be appropriate in other sections of the application.

The reasonableness of the data sharing plan or the rationale for not sharing research data will be assessed by the reviewers. However, reviewers will not factor the proposed data sharing plan into the determination of scientific merit or the priority score.

Public Access to AHRQ-Funded Scientific Publications

Investigators should review the document titled ‘AHRQ Announces new Policy for Public Access to AHRQ-Funded Scientific Publications’ which is available at (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-HS-16-008.html).  For all research arising from AHRQ support, this policy requires that AHRQ-funded authors submit an electronic version of the author’s final peer-reviewed accepted manuscript to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central (PMC) to be made publicly available within 12 months of the publisher’s date of publication.

Data Confidentiality

The AHRQ confidentiality statute, 42 USC 299c-3(c), requires that information that is obtained in the course of AHRQ supported activities and that identifies individuals or establishments be used only for the purpose for which it was supplied.  Information that is obtained in the course of AHRQ-supported activities and that identifies an individual may be published or released only with the consent of the individual who supplied the information or is described in it.  There are civil monetary penalties for violation of the confidentiality provision of the AHRQ statute. 42 USC 299c-3(d).  In the Human Subjects section of the application, applicants must describe procedures for ensuring the confidentiality of the identifying information to be collected.  The description of the procedures should include a discussion of who will be permitted access to this information, both raw data and machine readable files, and how personal identifiers and other identifying or identifiable data will be restricted and safeguarded.  Identifiable patient health information collected by grantees under this FOA will also be obtained and managed in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule, 45 CFR Parts 160 and 164. 

The grantee should ensure that computer systems containing confidential data have a level and scope of security that equals or exceeds that established by the HIPAA Security Rules, if applicable, and that established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in OMB Circular No. A-130, Appendix III - Security of Federal Automated Information Systems. The applicability and intended means of applying these confidentiality and security standards to subcontractors and vendors, if any, should be addressed in the application.

Sharing Research Resources:  Rights in Data

Unless otherwise provided in grant awards, AHRQ grantees may copyright, or seek patents for, as appropriate, final and interim products and materials developed in whole or in part with AHRQ support, including, but not limited to, methodological tools, measures, software with documentation, literature searches, and analyses.  Such copyrights and patents are subject to a royalty-free, non-exclusive, and irrevocable AHRQ license to reproduce, publish, use or disseminate for any purpose consistent with AHRQ’s statutory responsibilities and to authorize others to do so for any purpose consistent with AHRQ’s statutory responsibilities. In accordance with its legislative dissemination mandate, AHRQ purposes may include, subject to statutory confidentiality protections, making project materials, databases, results, and algorithms available for verification or replication by other researchers.  In addition, subject to AHRQ budget constraints, final products may be made available to the health care community and the public by AHRQ or its agents if such distribution would significantly increase access to a product and thereby produce substantial or valuable public health benefits.  Ordinarily, to accomplish distribution, AHRQ publicizes research findings but relies on grantees to publish research results in peer-reviewed journals and to market grant-supported products. 

AHRQ requests that grantees notify the Office of Communications and Knowledge Transfer (OCKT) when an AHRQ-funded research article has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Researchers should submit manuscripts that have been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal to JournalPublishing@ahrq.hhs.gov at least four to six weeks in advance of the journal’s expected publication date. 

Regulations applicable to AHRQ grantees concerning intangible rights and copyright can be found at 45 CFR 75.322.

NOTE:  You may also include in this section any supplementary application instructions not stated elsewhere in the announcement. (e.g., Any special requirements, expertise, facilities, partnerships or coordination among investigators, performance requirements, attendance at meetings, that should be addressed in the application.) Applicants should include the cost for such items in the budget.

For cooperative agreements, include statement that grantees must agree to the "Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award" in Section VI.2.A "Award Administration Information".

  
Post Submission Materials

Applicants are required to follow our Post Submission Application Materials policy.

Section V. Application Review Information
1. Criteria

The mission of AHRQ is to produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and to work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used.  

AHRQ's priority areas of focus are:

  • Improve health care quality by accelerating implementation of patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR).
  • Make health care safer.
  • Increase accessibility by evaluating Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage expansions.
  • Improve health care affordability, efficiency, and cost transparency.

As part of this mission, applications submitted to AHRQ to support health services research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the AHRQ peer review system. 

Applications that are complete and responsive to the FOA will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate peer review group convened in accordance with standard AHRQ peer review procedures that are described in 42 CFR Part 67, Subpart A.  Incomplete and/or non-responsive applications or applications not following instructions given in this FOA will not be reviewed.  Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process.

Administrative Criteria:  Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH, and for responsiveness by AHRQ.

Merit Review Criteria:  Merit Review Criteria, as described below, will be considered in the review process.

Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide an overall impact score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved, in consideration of the following review criteria and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed).

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific merit, and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact. For example, a project that by its nature is not innovative may be essential to advance a field.

Significance

Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? Is there a strong scientific premise for the project? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved? How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field? 

Investigator(s)

Are the PD/PI, collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project? Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level of the PD/PI and other researchers? Do the PD/PI and investigative team bring complementary and integrated expertise to the project (if applicable)? Is the leadership approach, governance and organizational structure appropriate for the project? Is there an adequate time commitment from key members of the project team?

Innovation

Is the project original and innovative? For example: Does the project challenge current research or seek to shift clinical practice paradigms; address an innovative hypothesis or critical barrier to progress in the field? Does the project develop or employ novel concepts, approaches or methodologies, tools, or technologies for this area?Would the proposed SDM measures advance the field of SDM measurement? Would the proposed SDM measures be applicable to different clinical settings, diverse populations, disease contexts, and types of decisions; would they be generalizable across different types of SDM interventions?

Approach

Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Have the investigators presented strategies to ensure a robust and unbiased approach, as appropriate for the work proposed? Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented? If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed? Does the SDM model or framework elucidate the process of SDM? Is the operationalization of SDM well-reasoned?  Is the plan to develop/modify measures reasonable, and could the proposed measures be developed using the plan that is described? Is there an adequate plan to test the validity, reliability, and responsiveness to change of the measures? Is there an adequate plan to evaluate the feasibility of using the measures in clinical settings? 

Environment

Will the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Are the institutional support, equipment and other physical resources available to the investigators adequate for the project proposed? Will the project benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, subject populations, or collaborative arrangements? 

Additional Review Criteria

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will evaluate the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit, and in providing an overall impact score, but will not give separate scores for these items.

Protections for Human Subjects

For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate the justification for involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk relating to their participation according to the following five review criteria: 1) risk to subjects, 2) adequacy of protection against risks, 3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, 4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and 5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.

For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption, 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and 3) sources of materials. For additional information on review of the Human Subjects section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Human Subjects.

Degree of Responsiveness 

Reviewers will assess how well the application addresses the purpose and objectives of this FOA.  How responsive is the application to the special eligibility criteria, including the project requirements, noted in the FOA? [NOTE: Information may be added here]

Inclusion of Priority Populations

Reviewers will assess the adequacy of plans to address the needs of both genders, racial and ethnic minorities (and subgroups).  Reviewers will assess the adequacy of attention to AHRQ priority populations (see above discussion on Priority Populations in section IV.6 “Other Submission Requirements”).

Budget and Period of Support

The committee will evaluate whether the proposed budget is reasonable and whether the requested period of support is appropriate in relation to the proposed research. [NOTE: Information may be added here.

Privacy and Security Protections for Patients

Reviewers will assess the resources and processes to be used to address privacy and security issues in the development and implementation of the intervention [NOTE: use this as appropriate. ]

Resubmissions

For Resubmissions, the committee will evaluate the application as now presented, taking into consideration the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group and changes made to the project.

Renewals

Not Applicable.

Additional Review Considerations

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items, and should not consider them in providing an overall impact score.

  Not applicable. 

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group, in accordance with AHRQ review policy and procedures, using the stated review criteria. Assignment to a Scientific Review Group will be shown in the eRA Commons.

As part of the scientific peer review, all applications:

  • May undergo a selection process in which only those applications deemed to have the highest scientific and technical merit (generally the top half of applications under review) will be discussed and assigned an overall impact score.
  • Will receive a written critique.

Applications will be assigned on the basis of established AHRQ referral guidelines to the appropriate AHRQ Office or Center. Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications submitted in response to this FOA. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by peer review.
  • Availability of funds.
  • Responsiveness to goals and objectives of the FOA.
  • Relevance and fit within AHRQ research priorities, as well as overall programmatic and geographic balance.  
3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his or her Summary Statement (written critique) via the eRA Commons. Refer to Part 1 for dates for peer review, advisory council review, and earliest start date.

Generally, applicants should anticipate eight months between the application submission date and the earliest possible start date.

Section VI. Award Administration Information
1. Award Notices

If the application is under consideration for funding, AHRQ will request "Just-In-Time" information from the applicant.  Just-In-Time information generally consists of information on other support, any additional information necessary to address administrative and budgetary issues, and certification of IRB approval of the project's proposed use of human subjects.  For details regarding IRB approval, applicants may refer to the "AHRQ Revised Policy for Institutional Review Board (IRB) Review of Human Subjects Protocols in Grant Applications" (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not-hs-00-003.html). 

If all administrative and programmatic issues are resolved, a formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization for successful applications. The NoA signed by the AHRQ grants management officer is the authorizing document and will be sent via email to the grantee’s business official.

Awardees must comply with any funding restrictions described in Section IV.5. Funding Restrictions.

Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance.  Any costs incurred before receipt of the NOA are at the recipient’s risk.  These costs may be reimbursed only to the extent considered allowable pre-award costs.  See also Section IV.5., “Funding Restrictions.”

Any application awarded in response to this FOA will be subject to the DUNS, SAM Registration, and Transparency Act requirements as noted on the AHRQ web site at http://www.ahrq.gov/funding/grant-mgmt/index.html.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All AHRQ grant and cooperative agreement awards are subject to OMB's Uniform Grant Guidance, HHS’s “Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for HHS Awards,” (http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?node=pt45.1.75), and the HHS Grants Policy Statement (see http://www.ahrq.gov/funding/policies/hhspolicy/index.html), and the terms and conditions set forth in the Notice of  Award.

A standard term and condition of award will be included in the Notice of Award (NOA) that states:  “in any grant-related activity in which family, marital, or household consideration are, by statute or regulation, relevant for purposes of determining beneficiary eligibility or participation, grantees must treat same-sex spouses, marriages, and households on the same terms as opposite-sex spouses, marriages, and households, respectively. By “same-sex spouses,” HHS means individuals of the same sex who have entered into marriages that are valid in the jurisdiction where performed, including any of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory or in a foreign country, regardless of whether or not the couple resides in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage.  By “same-sex marriages,” HHS means marriages between two individuals validly entered into in the jurisdiction where performed, including any of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory or in a foreign country, regardless of whether or not the couple resides in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage.  By “marriage,” HHS does not mean registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or similar formal relationships recognized under the law of the jurisdiction of celebration as something other than a marriage.”

All applicants will be subject to a term and condition that applies the terms of 48 CFR section 3.908 to the award, and requires that grantees inform their employees in writing of employee whistleblower rights and protections under 41U.S.C. 4712 in the predominant native language of the workforce.

As necessary, additional Terms and Conditions will be incorporated into the NoA.

Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award

Not Applicable

3. Reporting

When multiple years are involved, awardees will be required to submit the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) annually unless specified otherwise in the terms of the award.   Grantees are required to submit expenditure data on the Federal Financial Report (FFR; SF 425) annually.

For details regarding progress report submission, refer to http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/noncomp.htm.  If instructions on the AHRQ website are different from the RPPR Instructions, follow the instructions on the AHRQ website. Progress reports are due 3 months before the anniversary of the award. In addition to the annual progress report, recipients may be required to submit quarterly progress reports to AHRQ. If applicable, detailed instructions on additional reporting requirements will be provided with the grant award.

Expenditure data is to be reported on the Federal Financial Report (FFR; SF 425). AHRQ requires annual financial expenditure reports for ALL grant programs as described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement (http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/hhspolicy.htm).  AHRQ implementation of the FFR retains a financial reporting period that coincides with the budget period of a particular project.  However, the due date for annual FFRs is 90 days after the end of the calendar quarter in which the budget period ends.  For example, if the budget period ends 4/30/2015, the annual FFR is due 9/30/2015 (90 days after the end of the calendar quarter of 6/30/2015).

A final Progress Report, final Federal Financial Report, and Final Invention Statement are required when an award ends.  All final reports are due within 90 days of the project period end date.  For further details regarding grant closeout requirements, refer to http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/closeout.htm.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act), includes a requirement for awardees of Federal grants to report information about first-tier subawards and executive compensation under Federal assistance awards issued in FY2011 or later.  All awardees of applicable AHRQ grants and cooperative agreements are required to report to the Federal Subaward Reporting System (FSRS) available at www.fsrs.gov on all subawards over $25,000.  See the HHS Grants Policy Statement (http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/hhspolicy.htm) for additional information on this reporting requirement.

Section VII. Agency Contacts

We encourage inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants.

Application Submission Contacts

eRA Service Desk (Questions regarding ASSIST, eRA Commons registration, submitting and tracking an application, documenting system problems that threaten submission by the due date, post submission issues)
Finding Help Online: https://grants.nih.gov/support/ (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)

Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and submission, downloading forms and application packages)
Contact Center Telephone: 800-518-4726
Email: support@grants.gov

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Direct your questions about general FOA issues, including information on the inclusion of priority populations to:

Monique D. Cohen, PhD, MPH
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Center for Evidence and Practice Improvement
Telephone: (301) 427-1630
E-mail: Monique.Cohen@ahrq.hhs.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

Direct your questions about peer review issues of grant application made in response to this FOA to:

Kishena Wadhwani, PhD
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Office of Extramural Research, Education and Priority Populations
Division of Scientific Review
Telephone: (301) 427-1556
E-mail: Kishena.Wadhwani@ahrq.hhs.gov

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Direct your questions regarding fiscal matters to:

Nicole Williams
Office of Management Services
Grants Management
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Telephone: (301) 427-1015
E-mail: Nicole.Williams@ahrq.hhs.gov

Section VIII. Other Information

Recently issued AHRQ policy notices may affect your application submission. A full list of policy notices published by AHRQ is provided in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. Notices can also be found at AHRQ Grants Policy Notices.  All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement.

Authority and Regulations

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance at http://www.cfda.gov/ and is not subject to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health Systems Agency review. Awards are made under the authority of 42 USC 299 et seq., and in accordance with 45 CFR Part 75 and other referenced applicable statutes and regulations.  All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement. The HHS Grants Policy Statement can be found at http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/hhspolicy.htm.

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