The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) was established in December 1989 under Public Law 101-239 (Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989) to enhance the quality, appropriateness, and effectiveness of health care services and access to these services. AHCPR carries out its mission by conducting and supporting general health services research, including medical effectiveness research, facilitating development of clinical practice guidelines, and disseminating research findings and guidelines to health care providers, policymakers, and the public.
The legislation also established within AHCPR the Office of the Forum for Quality and Effectiveness in Health Care (the Forum). The Forum has primary responsibility for facilitating the development, periodic review, and updating of clinical practice guidelines. The guidelines will assist practitioners in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of clinical conditions.
Other AHCPR components include the following. The Center for Medical Effectiveness Research has principal responsibility for patient outcomes research and studies of variations in clinical practice. The Center for General Health Services Extramural Research supports research on primary care, the cost and financing of health care, and access to care for underserved and rural populations. The Center for General Health Services Intramural Research uses large data sets for policy research on national health care expenditures and utilization, hospital studies, and long-term care. The Center for Research Dissemination and Liaison produces and disseminates findings from AHCPR-supported research, including guidelines, and conducts research on dissemination methods. The Office of Health Technology Assessment responds to requests from Federal health programs for assessment of health care technologies. The Office of Science and Data Development develops specialized data bases for patient outcomes research.
Guidelines are available in formats suitable for health care practitioners, the scientific community, educators, and consumers. AHCPR invites comments and suggestions from users for consideration in development and updating of future guidelines. Please send written comments to Director, Office of the Forum for Quality and Effectiveness in Health Care, AHCPR, Executive Office Center, Suite 401, 2101 East Jefferson Street, Rockville, MD 20852.
For each clinical practice guideline developed under the sponsorship of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), several versions are produced to meet different needs.
The Guideline Report contains the Clinical Practice Guideline with complete supporting materials, including background information, methodology, literature review, scientific evidence tables, and a comprehensive bibliography.
The Clinical Practice Guideline and the Quick Reference Guide for Clinicians are companion documents for use as desktop references for clinical decisionmaking in the day-to-day care of patients. Recommendations, algorithms or flow charts, tables and figures, and pertinent references are included.
A Patient's Guide, available in English and Spanish, is an informational booklet for the general public to increase consumer knowledge and involvement in health care decisionmaking.
Guideline information also will be available for on-line retrieval through the National Library of Medicine, the National Technical Information Service, and some computer-based information systems of professional associations, nonprofit organizations, and commercial enterprises.
To order guideline products or to obtain further information on their availability, call the AHCPR Clearinghouse toll-free at 800-358-9295, or write to: AHCPR Publications Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 8547, Silver Spring, MD 20907.