A new funding opportunity announcement from the NIH solicits applications to support Demonstration Projects that include an efficient, large-scale pragmatic clinical trial. Trials must be conducted across two or more health care systems (HCS) and must be conducted as part of the NIH HCS Research Collaboratory supported through the NIH Common Fund. Awards made through this FOA will initially support a one-year milestone-driven planning phase (UG3), with possible rapid transition to the second implementation phase (UH3) for a pragmatic trial Demonstration Project.
The ABATE Infection trial, an NIH Collaboratory project led by Dr. Susan Huang, is featured in the September 12 Health section of the Wall Street Journal. The article describes several studies aimed at preventing the hospital-associated infection MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
In the Reduce MRSA trial, published in 2013, Dr. Huang’s team demonstrated that treating ICU patients with a germ-fighting soap plus a nasal antibiotic ointment, an approach called “universal decolonization,” was superior to standard approaches in preventing MRSA infections. The ABATE Infection trial examines similar approaches to decolonization for all patients in non–critical care medical and surgical units, comparing the use of an antiseptic bath and nasal ointment to standard bathing and showering. More than 1 million showers and baths were taken over the course of the study, which has now completed enrollment. Data from ABATE are currently being analyzed, with the results expected to inform whether this strategy is effective in reducing hospital-associated infections.
“These are preventable infections and we should be able to drive them down to zero.” Susan Huang, MD
The NIH Collaboratory has developed a tool to assist authors in the complete and transparent reporting of their pragmatic clinical trials (PCTs). In the PCT Reporting Template, users will find descriptions of reporting elements based on CONSORT guidance as well as on expertise from the NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Projects and Core working groups.
Particularly relevant to PCTs are recommendations on how to report the use of data from electronic health records. Other elements of importance to PCTs include reporting wider stakeholder engagement, monitoring for unanticipated changes in study arms, and specific approaches to human subjects protection. The template contains numerous links to online material in the Living Textbook, CONSORT, and the Pragmatic–Explanatory Continuum Indicator Summary tool known as PRECIS-2.
This resource is intended to assist authors in developing primary journal publications. It will be updated over time as new best practices emerge for the transparent reporting of PCTs.
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This work was supported by a cooperative agreement (U54 AT007748) from the NIH Common Fund for the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory. The views presented in this document are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.
Originally published on September 1, 2016.
Questions or comments can be submitted via email. Please add “Living Textbook” to the Subject line of the email.
The authors elaborate on four required components of the framework:
Searchable libraries of explicitly defined phenotype definitions
Knowledge bases with information and methods
Tools to identify, evaluate, and implement existing phenotype definitions
Motivated users and stakeholders
Read the entire eGEMs open access publication here. eGEMs (Generating Evidence & Methods to improve patient outcomes), a product of AcademyHealth’s Electronic Data Methods (EDM) Forum, is a peer-reviewed, open access journal that seeks to accelerate research and quality improvement using electronic health data.
Related resources:You can find extensive information on computable phenotypes in the Living Textbookchapter and in Tools for Research.
The PATIENTS program at the University of Maryland has produced a brief videoon the role of Stakeholder Advisory Boards. Stakeholders are anyone who cares about the outcomes of a clinical study to inform healthcare decisions. The board’s purpose is to advise the study team during the course of a trial to help ensure the results are relevant and important to all stakeholders.
A Stakeholder Advisory Board comprises a diverse and balanced collection of individuals and organizations from the following groups:
Patients, caregivers, and advocacy organizations
Clinicians, nursing staff, specialists, and healthcare system administrators
Academic investigators and other researchers
Public and private healthcare payers
Policy and guideline organizations
Industry sponsors and therapeutic product developers
The 4-minute video features Ellen Tambor, MA, Senior Research Manager at the Center for Medical Technology Policy and a member of the Collaboratory’s Stakeholder Engagement Core working group.
The study team for the Trauma Survivors Outcomes and Support (TSOS) trial recently published their study protocol in Implementation Science. TSOS, an NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory Demonstration Project, is an effectiveness-implementation hybrid trial designed to test the delivery of screening and intervention for PTSD and comorbidities across 24 U.S. level I trauma center sites. The study employs a stepped-wedge, cluster-randomized design in which sites are randomized sequentially to initiate the intervention. The study aims to determine if injured patients receiving a collaborative care intervention demonstrate significant reductions in PTSD symptoms when compared with control patients receiving usual care. The study will also evaluate whether intervention patients demonstrate significant reductions in depressive symptoms and associated suicidal ideation, alcohol use problems, and improvements in physical function.
As part of their ongoing effort to improve the speed and efficiency of conducting clinical trials, the NIH-FDA Joint Leadership Council has created a draft clinical trial protocol template. The template contains instructional and sample text intended to assist NIH-funded investigators in writing protocols for phase 2 or 3 clinical trials that require Investigational New Drug (IND) or Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) applications. Feedback is sought from investigators, investigator-sponsors, institutional review board members, and other stakeholders involved in protocol development and review.
Our goal is to provide an organized way for creative investigators to describe their plans so that others can understand them. – Dr. Pamela McInnes, NIH
Details on the rationale and development of the protocol template are on these blog posts:
Patients’ views concerning research on medical practices: implications for consent(Weinfurt et al. 2015) describes the results of focus group sessions that elicited a range of patients’ views and opinions about different types of research on usual medical practices. The authors state that “our data suggest that effective policy and guidance will involve balancing different patients’ interests and potentially different sets of interests for different types of research studies on usual medical practices.”
Ethics of research in usual care settings: data on point(Sugarman 2016) introduces a special five-article supplement in the American Journal of Bioethics, stating that the “growing empirical ethics literature regarding research in usual care settings provides data to inform conceptual and policy debates regarding this research and suggests areas that require further study.”
These publications were supported by a bioethics supplement awarded to the Regulatory/Ethics Core group by the NIH’s Office of the Director.
Investigators from the STOP CRC pragmatic trial, an NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Project, have recently published an article in the journal eGEMs describing solutions to issues that arose in the trial’s implementation phase. STOP CRC tests a program to improve colorectal cancer screening rates in a collaborative network of Federally Qualified Health Centers by mailing fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) kits to screen-eligible patients at clinics in the intervention arm. Clinics in the control arm provided opportunistic colorectal-cancer screening to patients at clinic visits in Year 1 and implemented the intervention in Year 2. In this cluster-randomized trial, clinics are the unit of analysis, rather than individual patients, with the primary outcome being the proportion of screen-eligible patients at each clinic who complete a FIT.
The team dealt with various challenges that threatened the validity of their primary analysis, one of which related to potential contamination of the primary outcome due to the timing of the intervention rollout: for control participants, the Year 2 intervention actively overlapped with the Year 1 control measurements. The other challenge was due to a lack of synchronization between the measurement and accrual windows. To deal with these issues, the team had to slightly modify the study design in addition to developing a few sensitivity analyses to better estimate the true impact of the intervention.
“While the nature of the challenges we encountered are not unique to pragmatic trials, we believe they are likely to be more common in such trials due to both the types of designs commonly used in such studies and the challenges of implementing system-based interventions within freestanding health clinics.” (Vollmer et al. eGEMs 2015)
The Publish EDM Forum Community publishes eGEMs (generating evidence & methods to improve patient outcomes) and provides free and open access to this methods case study. Readers can access the article here.