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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Department of Medical Social Sciences
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About the Outcomes and Measurement Science Hub

The Outcomes and Measurement Science hub benefits the Northwestern community by providing considerable methodological sophistication and research collaboration across the university and health system. We have expanded from our departmental beginnings in 2008 as a solid measurement group with clinical trial experience, to an applied group with such high-impact achievements as regulatory drug and device approval, healthcare payment policy approval and patient-centered learning health system integration. In the years to come, we look forward to continuing to impact the quality of life of people who seek evaluation and treatment for a variety of health conditions. We will do this through mentoring our early career colleagues and affording them access and participation in the full range of our innovative technologies and methodologic approaches.

Hub Strengths

We have three virtual "centers of excellence" in our hub:

Measurement Science

Our faculty have developed and validated hundreds of assessments that can be divided into two groups: 

  • Self-report measures are often referred to as patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures when they refer to people seeking healthcare. This area of research includes pioneering work on the generation, validation and dissemination of hundreds of PROs for a range of health conditions. This work is highlighted by our leading role in the development of PROMIS (the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System), Neuro-Qol, the emotional health measures in the NIH Toolbox for the Assessment of Neurological and Behavioral Function, new PRO development for ECHO (Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes) and many more.
  • Performance measures address the ability of a person to achieve a task. This area of research includes cutting-edge work in the development and distribution of performance measures to directly assess cognitive, sensory and motor function. This work is highlighted by our creation of performance measures for the NIH Toolbox cognition, motor and sensory batteries, ECHO and ARMADA (Advancing Reliable Measurement in Alzheimer's Disease and Cognitive Aging).

Analytics & Informatics

Our hub is fortunate to have a critical mass of skilled quantitative analysts who conduct standard and novel analyses of PRO and performance measures collected across multiple studies. Analytic methods include classical test theory statistics as well as item response theory analyses, including analysis of assumptions underlying their use. Our analysts also use a variety of methods, including longitudinal modeling approaches, handling of missing data, survival analysis and cost-effectiveness/cost-utility analysis and test linking and equating methods, all of which is done while checking for bias based on sex, race, developmental stage or illness, across the lifespan.

The Health Informatics group focuses on how psychometrics and information technology can be applied to measurement distribution, administration and data collection. We help develop measures, which benefit from technology in their development and administration, measurement systems to enable large-scale data collection and technology-based instruments that are focused on personalized data collection, from web-based applications through smartphone apps and wearables. The group also focuses on the integration of measures with electronic medical records systems such as Epic. The Informatics group is noted as the original developers of Assessment Center, the Assessment-Center/PROMIS API, the platform and the NIH Toolbox. 

Clinical Implementation

Many of our faculty are clinically trained, and some remain clinically active. These faculty use our solid measurement base, plus quality improvement and systems principles, to implement and assess health impact in the clinical arena. By obtaining real-time information on patient symptoms and function, intervention opportunities are identified and treatment plans developed and documented in the medical record. Patient-reported measures, adjusted for clinical comorbidities, can generate new knowledge of outcomes experienced by similar patients with similar clinical care in the health system. Our faculty are conducting efficacy, effectiveness and implementation trials, using good outcome measures, technology and supporting analytics to improve healthcare delivery and health outcomes.

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