Comparative Effectiveness Research

Comparative effectiveness research examines which treatment options work best for a given population and under what circumstances, based on the relative benefits, harms, and costs of those treatments. These core questions are fundamental concerns for patients and clinicians confronting a health problem and deciding among treatment options.

At RTI, we gather and assess the best available research about health care treatments to foster better decision making and improve patient care outcomes and quality of life. We amass and analyze relevant scientific literature to produce rigorous systematic reviews on topics related to prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of common diseases and clinical conditions and on a wide variety of behavioral and policy topics. We conduct studies using electronic and survey data to compare the outcomes of therapies used for treating conditions that have important public health significance.

Our multidisciplinary project teams include scientists and technicians in medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, statistics, epidemiology, health services, economics, and policy. Our researchers

  • Help to identify priorities for generating and synthesizing evidence
  • Generate evidence from observational studies using data from health insurers, electronic medical records, and surveys
  • Synthesize evidence into comparative effectiveness reviews and systematic reviews
  • Develop and enhance methods for conducting systematic reviews and analyzing observational data
  • Disseminate best practices through our health communication and marketing capabilities
  • Collaborate with guideline developers such as professional societies and health plan officials
  • Work with health systems to embed clinical guidelines into electronic medical records

RTI-UNC Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC)

RTI International, in collaboration with the five health professions schools and the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, operates the RTI-UNC Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The Center is one of 14 EPCs sponsored by the AHRQ.

Available as a resource to the entire health care community, the RTI-UNC EPC produces systematic reviews and analyses of the scientific evidence (evidence reports and updates) on a variety of health care and health policy topics. It also builds on these reports to create materials and messages for patients and clinicians relating to health care decisions. EPC personnel also conduct research into the best practices and methods for conducting reviews of the scientific literature.

The Center prepares AHRQ reports and technology assessments as well as reports for other public and private health care organizations on topics of their choosing. Center staff design and conduct customized literature searches and quantitative analyses.

For information about related comparative effectiveness research at RTI, please see RTI DEcIDE Center Completed Projects.


Kathleen N. Lohr
Distinguished Fellow, Health Care Services and Policy
Suzanne L. West
Fellow, Epidemiology

Sorrel Wolowacz appointed to Journal of Comparative Effectiveness Research editorial board

Sorrel Wolowacz, Ph.D., Head of European Health Economics at RTI Health Solutions (RTI-HS), a business unit of RTI In... Read more »

Web Resources

The following websites provide access to reports and publications produced by the RTI-UNC EPC team:

The following short reports provide guidelines for the research and review of evidence-base practices in keeping with the principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR):