Objectives: The purpose of this study was to identify the Evidence-Based Practice Center (EPC) network participants' perceptions of the characteristics of the EPC process and the relationship of the process to the success of EPC reports.
Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with the three groups involved in the EPC: EPC staff, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) staff, and representatives of partner organizations.
Results: The analysis of the coded transcripts revealed three related major themes, which form the conceptual basis for the interpretation presented here: the definition of a successful report, the determinants of a successful report, and the role of AHRQ in the process.
Conclusions: A successful report is a report that is used. The ultimate success of the core health technology assessment objective, moving from research to policy, depends on balancing two values: excellence and relevance. Our findings are consistent with the “two communities thesis,” which postulates the existence of two camps that confer different values to excellence and relevance, with resulting tension. A promising model for approaching this tension is integration or collaboration, which requires linking researchers and policy makers, promoting productive dialogues about the formulation and timing of analysis, and early consideration of how the resulting analysis will be used. This effort suggests that actively blurring the frontiers between these two groups will enhance their interaction. Furthermore, enhancing the role of the AHRQ as scientific broker will maximize the potential of the EPC network.