Skip to Main Content

The Role of Patient-Centered Outcomes Research in Improving Evidence and Advancing Health Equity

By Eliot Fishman, , Denisse Sanchez, Ellen Albritton,


The ongoing effort to transform health care in the United States is an important opportunity to address racial, ethnic, and other health inequities directly and deliberately. A central pillar in delivery system and payment reform is promoting evidence-based care: incentivizing treatments with strong evidence of success and appropriate value and disincentivizing those that are not supported by a strong evidence base.

How do we incentivize what works well for communities of color when little research has focused on this question?

However, when it comes to health equity, we are at a significant disadvantage. We do not have enough reliable evidence of what actually works well for diverse populations, nor about the outcomes that really matter to patients. Historically, most medical and health system research has been done using unrepresentative test subjects, with women, children, and communities of color being largely left out.

Patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) is an opportunity to improve the evidence base for equity

Patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) focuses on seeking answers to the questions that most matter to patients and their families. PCOR has an important role in improving the evidence available to develop treatments, modes of delivering care, and targeted strategies to reduce inequities, and in helping patients, their families, and providers to make better decisions that align with the patient’s goals, priorities, and values. This paper describes the limitations of traditional approaches to clinical and delivery systems research, and how comparative effectiveness research (CER) and PCOR can help remedy them.

View the full report.