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Past president of ACP to chair IOM panel on comparative effectiveness

Past president of the American College of Physicians (ACP) and current editor of Annals of Internal Medicine, Harold C. Sox, MD, MACP, has been named to chair the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Comparative Effectiveness Research Priorities. Dr. Sox will lead a panel of nationally renowned medical experts to make recommendations to the U.S. government about which preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services should have the highest priority for research funding using money allotted to the Secretary of the DHHS in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

"No health intervention is without potential harms," said Dr. Sox. "The key element of comparative effectiveness is to identify the treatments, diagnostics, and preventive measures that have the greatest margin of benefit over harms. The objective of comparative effectiveness research is to arm physicians and patients with knowledge about which medical interventions do the most good."

The panel will spend the next three months developing its recommendations to the Secretary and Congress. This initiative will further extend past and future studies by the IOM in the field of comparative effectiveness. These studies include a past study on the national capacity to identify what works in health care and future federally funded studies on standards for systematic reviews of evidence, and standards for developing trustworthy clinical practice guidelines.

Once the report is completed, the IOM will focus its efforts on disseminating information to the public, with the goal of raising awareness and interest in the project's results. The U.S. government will consider funding research in health areas prioritized in the report.

"Medical decision making is complex," said Dr. Sox. "This initiative can provide physicians and patients with clear evidence that can guide choices. Ultimately, we hope to give clinicians a clearer picture of what works best in for a specific patient, a central goal of patient-centered care."

Dr. Sox is a past president of ACP and has served as editor of Annals of Internal Medicine since 2001. He is the principal author of "Medical Decision Making," an introductory textbook used throughout the world. He was editor of the first and second editions of "Common Diagnostic Tests," a groundbreaking evaluation of medical tests first published by ACP in 1987.

Dr. Sox received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1966. After serving as a medical intern and resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, he spent two years doing research in immunology at the National Institutes of Health and three years at Dartmouth Medical School. There he served as chief medical resident and began his studies of medical decision-making. Sox then spent fifteen years on the faculty of Stanford University School of Medicine, where he served as chief of the division of general internal medicine and as a director of ambulatory care at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Medical Center. In 1988, Dr. Sox returned to Dartmouth to chair the department of medicine. He was the Joseph M. Huber Professor of Medicine and chair of the department of medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center until 2001, when he became editor of Annals of Internal Medicine.


Contact: Angela Collom
American College of Physicians

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