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Applied Health Research Questions (AHRQ)

According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), an Applied Health Research Question (AHRQ) is a question posed by a health system policymaker or provider in order to obtain research evidence to inform planning, policy and program development that will benefit the entire Ontario health system.

AHRQ Overview

ICES is one of several research centres funded by the Research, Analysis and Evaluation Branch of the MOH. As a health services research institute that holds Ontario administrative data, ICES is well positioned to respond to AHRQs that directly involve the use of ICES data holdings.

Organizations seeking research evidence to inform planning, the provision of services, policy and/or program development in Ontario’s health and healthcare system are invited to submit an AHRQ at any time during the year. Eligible organizations are referred to as ‘Knowledge Users.’ Knowledge Users include but are not limited to:

  • Policy development staff, planners and decision-makers from the MOH
  • Other government ministries
  • Ontario Health Teams (OHTs)
  • Hospitals (acute and rehabilitation)
  • Community Care Access Centres
  • Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs)
  • Provincial associations and agencies across Ontario (e.g., Ontario Brain Institute)

Organization-led Projects

ICES is committed to creating pathways for community organizations to access data and analytics through the AHRQ program.

Click here to learn more about how we can support your organization.

AHRQ Projects

Every year, ICES conducts AHRQ projects that help inform healthcare planning, policy and program development in Ontario’s healthcare system. Select a fiscal year below to view ICES AHRQ projects accepted that year.

For each project, the title, project ID, type of response, names of the Knowledge User and ICES scientist(s) and project status are provided.

AHRQ Categories

The type of AHRQ is determined mainly by the depth of information required and the timeline for response. AHRQ fall into one of three categories:

Rapid response AHRQs are defined by the MOH as providing preliminary information. For ICES, this means information is readily available and can be furnished within five business days. A rapid response AHRQ also indicates that information is required urgently to inform a highly important policy or planning decision.

Examples include:

  • Statistics from an existing ICES report
  • Very basic analysis of existing data holdings (e.g., number of emergency department visits for concussion or other head injuries by age and sex)
  • Complex analysis based on an existing optimized algorithm (e.g., running the costing algorithm)
  • Update(s) to data tables from a previous AHRQ

According to the MOH, a research report or technical brief AHRQ synthesizes existing research evidence on a given topic. For ICES, this type of AHRQ indicates a brief analysis resulting in a short report or data tables. Typically, results can be furnished in four to eight weeks.

Examples include:

  • Incidence/prevalence of a chronic disease using an existing ICES-derived cohort
  • Rates of breast cancer screening using mammography in Ontario

A research project is initiated when existing knowledge is not sufficient for planning or policy development and new knowledge must be generated. Research project AHRQs may take months or even years. For ICES, research projects may involve a data sharing agreement or multiple analyses.

Examples include:

  • Prevalence of pressure ulcers and related skin problems in healthcare settings in Ontario
  • The Annual Cardiac Surgery Report Card