When deciding between one treatment option and another, doctors and patients often lack proven information about what works and what doesn't.
Research has suggested that as much as 30 percent of health care spending may be wasted on care that does not improve health, as decisions are not based on rigorous scientific evidence.
Comparative effectiveness research aims to address this situation by developing and disseminating research findings about how one treatment compares with others. While the field enjoys broad support, some fear that this research could be used as justification for cuts in health coverage. Congress recently expanded funding for comparative effectiveness research.
This Health Policy Snapshot, published online in July 2011, examines how comparative effectiveness research can help improve the quality of health care and lower costs.
Read more from RWJF's Health Policy Snapshot series.