Health Care Professionals

Ministry Research Funding Opportunities

Applied Health Research Questions (AHRQs)

An AHRQ is a question posed by a health system policy maker or provider in order to obtain research evidence to inform planning, policy and program development that will benefit the entire Ontario health system.


Ministry-Funded Research Organizations/Programs/Projects

Ministry-funded research organizations/programs/projects field Applied Health Research Questions from the broader health care system. For AHRQ contacts see the funded research organizations/programs/projects.

If questions cannot be answered by the ministry-funded organizations/programs/projects listed below, the Research Planning and Management Unit may be able to provide assistance in identifying other research providers. Please contact the Research Planning and Management Unit at ResearchUnit@Ontario.ca for further information.

AHRQ Reporting Forms

The AHRQ Guidelines provide information for both Research Providers and Knowledge Users. If you require any of the AHRQ reporting forms, please contact us.

Research Provider Templates

  • AHRQ Quarterly Workplan Report
  • AHRQ Summary of Findings Form
  • Knowledge User AHRQ Request Form

 


Applied Health Research Question (AHRQ) Guidelines


Introduction

The Research, Analysis and Evaluation Branch in the Strategic Policy and Planning Division of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) supports leading edge health research and knowledge translation activities for the benefit of the Ontario health system. This research provides data, analyses and knowledge to help build a strong, evidence-based foundation for innovation and decision making to improve the Ontario health care system. The funding agreements established by the Research, Analysis and Evaluation Branch through the Health System Research Fund (HSRF) require most research institutes, centres, programs and projects to set aside a portion of their annual MOHLTC research funding towards Applied Health Research Questions (AHRQs).

An AHRQ is a question posed by a health system policy maker or provider in order to obtain research evidence to inform planning, policy and program development that will benefit the broader Ontario health system.

The AHRQ process:


Principles


Participants


Three Types of Research Provider Responses

  1. Rapid response – Preliminary information in one week or less providing a "first blush" response, e.g., expert opinion or relevant systematic reviews, articles or reports on a given policy topic.
  2. Research report or technical brief – Approximately 4-8 weeks of work to quickly synthesize the existing research evidence on a given topic. The final product could be a presentation or a report. Upon conclusion of the AHRQ, the researcher will complete the AHRQ Summary of Findings Form which will be disseminated broadly once completed.
  3. Research project – Where it has been confirmed that new knowledge must be generated, i.e., existing knowledge is not sufficient for planning or policy development requirements, new research projects will be initiated. The duration may be months, or years, depending on the project. For longer-term projects it is expected that some information be provided within the funded funding year. Institutions should contact the Research Planning and Management Unit prior to undertaking any longer-term projects. Organizations should not initiate new multi-year projects if they have one year funding agreements unless they can produce some interim or preliminary findings during the funded period. At the end of the project, the researcher will complete an AHRQ Summary of Findings Form which will be disseminated broadly. Interim or preliminary findings will not be disseminated.

It is understood that not every question will result in a research response.

Process and Timing

The AHRQ process will be ongoing throughout the funding year. Knowledge Users should be mindful of the fact that as the funding year progresses, Research Providers might have less capacity to take on new projects as they expend their funding related to AHRQ. Research Providers should limit their work to projects that will have some results within the period for which they have confirmed funding.


AHRQ Process

  1. Research Planning and Management Unit Initiates AHRQ Process for each funding year (April 1 - March 31)
    • Research Planning and Management Unit sends out AHRQ guidelines and Research Provider contact information to Knowledge Users and will cc: Research Providers to initiate the AHRQ process.
    • Research Providers may forward the announcement to local Knowledge Users.
  2. Knowledge User – Research Provider Contact
    • Knowledge User contacts potential Research Providers
    • Knowledge User and Research Provider dialogue to scope AHRQ
    • Research Provider forwards the completed Knowledge User request form to ResearchUnit@ontario.ca
  3. Research Planning and Management Unit Identifies Previous Relevant Work and Provides Support as Required
    • Research Planning and Management Unit searches internal repositories and shares previously completed work with Knowledge User and Research Provider
    • Research Planning and Management Unit also provides support throughout the process on request
  4. Initiation of Work
    • Research Provider informs the Research Planning and Management Unit of the question that will be addressed, then initiates work
  5. Research Progress Reported
    • Research Provider submits Quarterly Workplan Report to Research Planning and Management Unit for all AHRQs (e.g., in progress, completed, referred, declined) requested during the funding year being reported.
  6. Interim/Preliminary Results Presented
    • For type 2 and 3 responses, Research Provider schedules interim/pre-final report meeting with Knowledge User and include Research Planning and Management Unit, as required.
  7. Research Results Communicated
    • Research Provider sends response to Knowledge User  and will cc: Research Planning and Management Unit. Information is now available to be disseminated broadly.
  8. Knowledge Translation and Dissemination
    • For type 2 and 3 research responses, Research Provider sends one page AHRQ Summary of Findings Form to Research Planning and Management Unit
    • Research Planning and Management Unit works with Research Providers to identify appropriate knowledge translation opportunities.

The Responsibilities of Research Providers

Research Providers will:


The Responsibilities of Knowledge Users

Knowledge Users will:


The Responsibilities of the Research Planning and Management Unit

The Research Planning and Management Unit will:

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Frequently Asked Questions


What is an Applied Health Research Question (AHRQ)?

An AHRQ is a question posed by a health system Knowledge User in order to request research evidence that can be applied to improve or benefit the Ontario health system. Institutes, centres and projects funded through the Health System Research Fund, provide responses to AHRQs in order to inform planning, policy and program development, which in turn helps strengthen the Ontario health system.

Can you provide some examples of Knowledge Users?

Knowledge Users include policy development staff, planners and decision makers from across the Ontario health system including, but not limited to: Ontario ministries, Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), hospitals (acute and rehabilitation), provincial associations and agencies (e.g., Health Quality Ontario, Public Health Ontario). Research Providers may also suggest their own local Knowledge Users.

Can you provide some examples of Research Providers?

Research Providers are the research institutes, centres, programs or projects that receive funding from the Research, Analysis andEvaluation Branch through the Health System Research Fund (HSRF) under a Transfer Payment Accountability Agreement. (Knowledge translation and exchange HSRF programs and projects are excluded from the AHRQ process). A full list of Research Providers is available on request from ResearchUnit@ontario.ca.

Will the Research Planning and Management Unit screen who can be a Knowledge User?

No, the Research Planning and Management Unit will not be screening Knowledge Users. It will be the responsibility of the Research Providers to determine if the research evidence being sought has the potential to impact planning, policy or program decisions in health and the health care system to be eligible for consideration as an AHRQ. The Research Planning and Management Unit will provide input and advice to Research Providers on request. AHRQs must be approved in writing by a senior decision maker within the Knowledge User's organization (e.g., assistant deputy minister, executive director).

Can organizations that are not on the first outreach email participate as Knowledge Users in the AHRQ process and will the knowledge exchange with them count as AHRQ products in reporting to MOHLTC?

Yes. Research Providers can forward the Research Planning and Management Unit outreach email to local Knowledge Users. It is the responsibility of the research organization to ensure that the engagement with Knowledge Users and resulting AHRQ products meet the requirements for AHRQs.

Prior to the launch of the annual AHRQ process, some Knowledge Users have already connected with Research Providers to undertake AHRQ activities. Does the Research Provider need to inform the Research Planning and Management Unit?

Yes, Research Providers must include this activity on the AHRQ Quarterly Workplan Report to be submitted to the Research Planning and Management Unit. A Knowledge User Request Form should also be submitted to ResearchUnit@ontario.ca..

Are there any restrictions regarding scientists' publication rights or data ownership rights?

What if a question posed appears to seek data and analysis that would support advocacy rather than research evidence and advice?

Research under AHRQ is intended to inform planning, policy and program development that benefits the Ontario health system broadly. Research evidence presented to Knowledge Users must be balanced and reflect the evidence base. For example, Knowledge Users may request a summary of all evidence related to a policy or program but may not ask for only successful examples of implementation. Requests to support specific advocacy positions are neither in scope, nor appropriate, for the AHRQ process.

What documents do I need to complete?

Knowledge Users:

Research Providers:

What if the Research Provider cannot complete the work proposed within the term of the funding agreement?

AHRQs must be able to be completed during the time the funding agreement is in place. A Research Provider might identify from the beginning that the question cannot be researched within the proposed time or funding period. The Research Provider should communicate this directly to the Knowledge User and the Research Planning and Management Unit. The Research Providers and Knowledge Users can then work together, involving the Research Planning and Management Unit for advice as required, to determine if an interim product or preliminary response can be produced during the funded period. The Research Provider should further note if a project will continue beyond the funded period in the AHRQ Quarterly Workplan Report.

The Research Provider, Knowledge User and Research Planning and Management Unit may also agree to bring forward the AHRQ in the future (noting that no commitments can be made outside the funded period).

When do Research Providers need to contact the Research Planning and Management Unit?

Who will be responsible for dissemination when research is finalized?

Depending on the nature of the work, dissemination may involve collaboration between a combination of the Research Provider, Knowledge User and Research Planning and Management Unit. The format for dissemination will also depend on the nature of the work.

The ministry intends to develop a searchable public repository of current and previous AHRQ Summary of Findings to be available in the future on the Research Planning and Management Unit website.

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Research Provider Contact List

Main Priority Area

Research Provider Institution

Area of Focus/Description

AHRQ Contact

Various

Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES)

Specialized Research Centre - The advanced analysis of enriched, linked population health data sets to: identify determinants of health and ill health; examine the effectiveness and safety of a wide range of medical interventions including drugs and devices; and, investigate the equity, quality, value and appropriateness of care delivered by the Ontario healthcare systems; aging; various cancers; cardiovascular disease; chronic disease; diabetes; diagnostic testing and screening; disability, drug safety, equity and social determinants of disease; emergency services; gastroenterology; geographic factors in distribution of health and healthcare; health of First Nations and Métis; health technology assessment; health of immigrants; mental health and addiction; peri-natal and child health; primary care models; rehabilitation; resource consumption and costing; respiratory disease; stroke medicine; surgical procedures and pre-operative testing; vaccination, wait times and women's health.

Lisa Ishiguro
Email: ahrq@ices.on.ca

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For More Information
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Strategic Policy and Planning Division
Research, Analysis and Evaluation Branch
9th Floor Hepburn Block, 80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto ON M7A 1R3
Tel.: 416-327-7759
Fax : 416-327-3200
E-mail : ResearchUnit@ontario.ca